In 1980, 11.2 million people used a mobile phone.

In 1990, 12.4 million people used a mobile phone.

In 2002, 1.2 billion people had a mobile phone…

And in 2014, 4.55 billion people used a mobile phone. That’s over 69% of the world population.

We use them not only to speak to one another, but also to tweet, text, Facebook, Instagram… for Snapchat and so the list goes on. In fact, it is possible to live in an almost entirely ‘virtual’ world and never speak or communicate with another person other than through digital media. It may sound extreme, but it is not too far from the truth in a child’s world… A ‘fantasy’ life in a digital world.

There is no doubt that the Internet and the digital revolution have transformed the way we live and brought with them an unprecedented global opportunity.

But, it has also transformed the most fundamental aspect of human behavior; the ability to communicate verbally with each other.

My fear is that we are allowing the next generation to neglect this absolutely vital life skill as they develop. There is a huge need to create better verbal and non-verbal communication skills, to allow young people the ability to develop and express opinions, contribute to conversation and above all to communicate with confidence.

Communication is a two way street – it includes the ability to listen and to be aware of others’ inhibitions. It acknowledges that there is appropriate conversation to suit different circumstances. It understands that delivering and receiving communication is a skill as every individual interprets a conversation differently.

Confident self-expression lies at the heart of human happiness. To be understood for who we are and what we think and have to say is a very significant thing. Individuals gain admiration by having the ability to communicate in a genuine and respectful manner.

The importance of sharing feelings and expressing thoughts in a descriptive and appropriate manner with family, friends, peers, pupils, work colleagues, team leaders and the wider community cannot be underestimated and by developing the ability to communicate, individuals will be less vulnerable resulting in more balanced, confident and eloquent community members.

If we can help our children to get it right whilst they are young, their transition into adulthood will be so much easier.

We need to encourage children to think about their motivations, their strengths and their weaknesses. We need to give them the tools to practice expressing themselves for who they are and what they have to say.

Everything we do in life is a learned experience – tying your shoelaces, cleaning your teeth or driving a car, and good communication is no different. It requires work and attention to detail.

The fabric of a strong functioning family or a sound workplace is good communication from which individuals, companies and communities thrive and expand.

If children are not taught how to express their emotions and how to communicate them it will impact their wellbeing and have a detrimental effect on health and happiness.

– By Jum Lamont

Jum Lamont is the founder of Jump Start Communications. Jump Start Communications tailors programs to help young people be more confident in their verbal and non-verbal communication.

Interested to learn more about the importance of communication for the wellbeing of young people? You can visit the Jumpstart Communications stand in our exhibition space in Melbourne.