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At a family home, in the living room, immediately following dinner, is where I begin my observations. I have chosen to observe teenagers communicating. I chose this as my topic of observation because I believe that it will be very interesting to see teenagers converse and use slang and body language, or nonverbal communication. I believe teenagers speak their minds most of the time so it will be fun seeing what they are thinking and how they communicate. My observational period is brief and definitely not adequate time to gain a complete view of teenage communication.
But it is enough to give us a taste of what teenage communication is like. My first observation is of teenagers communicating with siblings. The sister, in this situation, is a teenager and the brother is in the first of his teenage years. Their father is on the floor in the living room taking an old television set out of the stand and replacing it with a new one. The sister sits down on the couch, slouches and lifts her feet on to the coffee table. The brother moves from one piece of furniture to the next.
The sister is eyeing the brother, who is younger by a few years and at least five inches shorter than her. The brother is eyeing the sister now and at times glancing at the television. The sister wears a frown as she sits down and the brother has a blank, half-smiling, almost mocking look upon his face as he stares at the sister. The sisters tone of voice is sarcastic and she appears to be irritated simply by his presence. He begins to talk to her from the chair across the room. You didnt do your dishes!
he declares, loud enough for their parents to hear. Bluntly she replies, So? He rolls his eyes in response and then asks if she wants the old television, because it still works. She scoffs at him as if he doesnt know anything. No, were gonna give it away. Na-uh, Dad said we can keep it if someone wants it, he says in an arrogant tone.
Why would I want it? she responds quickly, I dont even have cable in my room. You can still get like three channels, he immediately remarks. Her eyes begin to show surprise, but her mouth still wears a frown and her voice is cynical as she cries, Ooh, three whole channels! She stares back at the television as pure boredom spreads obviously across her face. The brother seems not to notice as he calls out, Fine, Ill take it.
Her head snaps instantly back towards her brother as she rolls her eyes and shakes her head, droning that he already has a TV in his room. He sticks his tongue out at her before he reminds her that the TV in his room doesnt work with the Sega anymore. She turns her head away as she replies, Fine, whatever! Her tone insinuates that she is pretending she doesnt care or perhaps she really doesnt. At this time the mother yells from the bedroom that the brother should be doing his homework and he leaves the living room. There are constant differences between the words said and the nonverbal communication throughout the entire conversation.
The emotions being communicated in the situation are sarcasm, arrogance, and an overall feeling of nonchalance. Teenagers, when communicating with siblings, have very short tempers and almost no patience with one another. Teenagers use a lot of sarcasm also when communicating with siblings. The environment of my next observation is a dentist office around 4: 30 in the afternoon.
This is an observation of a teenager communicating with an adult. In this example I am the teenager and the dentist that I work for is the adult. I am standing, pulling on latex gloves, while the Doctor, Lowell, is leaning on the counter facing me, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. We maintain eye contact, except when he closes his eyes as he rubs his nose and I look down to put my gloves on. I am smiling and so is Lowell apart from a slight grimace as he rubs his nose. Hi, I say with a smile.
Hello, Lowell begins, not much work for you today. He nods toward the shelves of dirty trays. I laugh and reply, Good, then I can go home early and do my homework. Lowell sighs as he tells me that Amy, the hygienist, didnt come in to work today. I fret and tilt my head to the left as I question, Really? Why?
Shes sick, Lowell responds. I fret my eyebrows again and remark, Oh thats too bad. Does she have the flu or is it a cold? Lowell continues, ignoring my question, but not deliberately, Yep, she wimped out on work! He grins slightly. I repeat my question as I smile at his comment.
He nods. I think its just a cold. What a wimp! I never skip work because of a little cold. He is now grinning from ear to ear. I laugh at his wisecrack and tell him that I know how she feels, as Im battling a cold also.
Lowell looks concerned and tells me that hes sorry that I have a cold. Oh, its ok, really, Im getting over it, I say in a nonchalant tone of voice. All right then, he calls as he begins to walk towards the door. Goodnight ladies. Goodnight, Lowell, we all call as he walks out the door. I observed that teenagers when communicating with adults are much more likely to use more formal language and the joking in the message creates a more comic feeling between the parties, which in turn creates a more personable relationship between the two.
The communication between the two seemed to be comfortable and friendly, but I know that whenever I talk to adults other than my family I am a bit anxious and nervous. This nervousness is slight when talking to Lowell because he always makes me feel like I am on the same level as he. He does this by joking with me and treating me with respect. My third observation is conducted in an apartment, in the living room, around 11: 00 p.
m. This observation is of teenagers communicating with friends. I believe when teenagers communicate with friends their conversation is much more relaxed and much more slang is used. Two teenage boys sit on a couch, side by side, both slouching and staring at a TV with Nintendo controllers in their hands. Their only movements are those of their thumbs and their index fingers pushing the buttons of the controllers. They simply stare at the TV in a blank, neutral manner, never looking at each other.
The blonde boy begins with a frown as he accuses the other boy. You always make fun of me cause Im short. Yeah man, I always make fun of you because youre short, the boy with the hat replies in a sarcastic tone as he shakes his head from side to side. You do! the blonde boy claims, emphatically. You always say the short kid needs to get some play.
This second part is said in a lower, dumber-sounding, mocking tone as he portrays the other boys voice. The boy with the hat genuinely questions the accusation by asking when he has ever said that. The blonde boy tilts his head back slightly as he claims, All the time, dude! The blonde boys tone of voice seems to imply that the boy with the hat knows what situation hes talking about. I think youre confusing me with Donner, man, the boy with the hat responds as he shakes his head again and rolls his eyes. Adamantly the blonde boy exclaims, No Im not.
You always make calls about me being short. Like what? the boy with the hat begins. Name one of the calls that Ive made about you being short.
His tone emphasizes one, and in turn implies that there isnt even one to name. The blonde boy smiles now. He begins almost immediately, How bout the time you said I was five foot, nothin. Five foot, nothin. Five foot, nothin. You said that all night.
The boy with the hat begins loudly, That wasnt me! That was Donner when he was poppin off to you, tryin to get you to fight with him. He was saying, Five foot, nothin, five eight. Who do you thinks gonna win?
This last part is said in a lower, monotone voice while stating facts to prove his point. Oh yeah, the blonde boy says nodding in response. That was Donner. But you say it too, dude! He squints as he says the last phrase loudly and accusingly again. The boy with the hat yells, Dude, just drop it!
After this the conversation stops and they continue to play Nintendo in silence. The observations I made on teenagers communicating with their friends is that they constantly use sarcasm and slang words. This use of slang is due to the fact that they dont feel they are judged by their friends. Teenagers feel comfortable when communicating with their friends. Most times teenagers do not look each other in the eyes when communicating, even when they are not playing video games. They are much more likely to swear or ridicule one another by means of sarcasm or simply by imitation.
This sarcasm and ridiculing is mostly to impress either people of the opposite sex who are in the room, or to get a laugh from the others and be the center of attention, and sometimes its both. Ive seen many times where boys will argue and then begin to fight with one another at a party. They always seem to deliberately begin the fight directly in front of a girl. It is obvious that they are trying to get the girls attention. I noticed later that in the situation with the boys playing Nintendo could have been due to the fact that I was a girl and was sitting right there. I have also seen girls use tactics at parties to get a boys attention.
Girls are usually a bit more subtle though. They tend to talk a bit louder and maybe even dance around or use large hand gestures when talking. Overall Ive discovered that the way teenagers communicate is much more complex than I initially thought. I expected teenagers to use much more slang, even when communicating with adults, but I found that this was not the case. Even when teenagers are communicating with their siblings they use almost entirely proper English.
I discovered that it is only when communicating with friends of their own age that they use a vocabulary of slang and swearing. Perhaps with siblings the use of proper English is to prove a higher intelligence, thereby creating a superiority over the other sibling. Using formal language when communicating with an adult is to not only show an adult respect, but also to gain an adults respect and trust. There are many other aspects of teenage communication which could not be covered in such a short paper. I hope these examples will help to improve understanding teenage communication and in turn help people to communicate better with teenagers. 331
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