Are you concerned that your children are spending too much time using digital devices, like smartphones and tablets? Is it at the expense of quality time interacting with friends and family? You may be interested in the findings of a new UCLA Department of Psychology study about the affects of technology on children’s social skills.
Lead UCLA researcher Patricia Greenfield says: “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, but not many are looking at the costs.” While electronic devices can be helpful and act as learning tools, she cites the downside of too much screen time: “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues–losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people–is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
Here’s the encouraging news from the study in which 51 sixth graders spent just 5 days at a nature and science camp free of technology. Researchers found that there was a noticeable positive impact in a child’s ability to be more in touch with their own emotions, as well as tune into the emotions and feelings of others.
And Yalda Uhls, senior research at the UCLA Children’s Digital Media Center, raises this key point: “You can’t learn nonverbal emotional cues from a screen in the way you can learn it from face-to-face communication. If you’re not practicing face-to-face communication, you could be losing important social skills. We are social creatures. We need device free time.”
Do you limit the time your children spend on digital devices? Would you consider a short tech free holiday to encourage your children to enjoy the benefits of more face-to-face communication?