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The Paper Pencil WhatsApp

Updated: Jun 14

What happens when two tweens show up at a restaurant , with no permission to carry phones, books or music ?

Pat comes the first question – “ so , what do we do ?” 

Parent (me) – “talk to your friend, stare at the walls, look at the menu …do anything ..”

Pat comes the response – “ really ? how boring is that ?” 

What follows is some eye rolls, some fidget, and some groans of boredom. 

Then… silence….

The 2 sets of parents wonder about the silence, until they notice the little activity the kids have engaged in….

It’s a “WhatsApp looking chat”, being conducted on a piece of paper that is getting passed between the two kids….

They are “talking” but in digital format , using a paper and pencil , while they sit across each other . There is eye contact , the giggles, and the engagement …. Secrets being shared , parents being mocked , opinions being discussed.

As a psychologist , context and environment have always fascinated me – as it shapes so many behaviors and relationships . Technology is no more an aid or tool; it is the context of interaction …more so for this new generation… 

I worry that the spoken words will be hard to find, while the written abbreviations will be used as reflections of complex expressions…I worry that the nuance of language will be reduced and with it maybe the ability to feel and sense the wide plethora of minute emotions. 

A whole generation will find a new dimension of engagement … with its own rules and meanings … So I have decided to watch and enjoy this shift …rather than fret about the lack of “context” the way my generation see’s it. 

This absolutely cute conversation has all elements of classic 12 year old – discussion of school crushes, eye rolls of parents mindsets , the sulk of “ I don’t want to talk to you”, the exchange of gossip , the discussion on music….

Will be interesting to see how we hire, manage, assess, develop this new gen as they hit the workforce…

WhatsApp … take note… your new upgraded version may just be paper pencil..


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