Avoiding screens improves social skills

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No Screens!

Even after five days without gadgets, preteens’ social and emotional skills improved. The research Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues by authors: Yalda T. Uhlsa, Minas Michikyanb, Jordan Morrisc, Debra Garciad, Gary W. Smalle, Eleni Zgourouf and Patricia M. Greenfield is published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.

The key features of the study are as follows:
• Preteens spent five days in a nature camp without access to screens and were compared to controls.
• Both groups took pre- and post-tests regarding nonverbal emotional cues.
• The experimental group’s recognition of cues improved significantly over the control.
• Time away from screen media, with increased social interaction, may improve comprehension of nonverbal emotional cues

The main finding was that just five days gadget-free was enough to improve the 11-12 year-olds’ ability to read others’ emotional cues. Prof Patricia Greenfield, the lead study author and professor of psychology at UCLA, said, “ma ny people look at the benefits of digital media in education and not many are looking at the costs… Losing the ability to understand the emotions is one of the costs.”

Obviously, only face-to-face communication facilitates learning of non-verbal emotional cues. Body language and non-verbal communication are a large part of human interaction.

Steve Jobs on gadget use and his kids

Steve Jobs wasn’t such a libertarian when it came to his own kids’ use of gadgets. After his death in 2011, journalist Nick Bilton said Jobs was a self-confessed “low-tech parent.” When asked if they used iPads he replied that they hadn’t used it: “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

A friend commented that “Every evening Jobs made a point of having dinner at the long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things. No one ever pulled out an iPad or laptop – the kids did not seem addicted to devices.”

Further Reading
Teaching Social skills to Improve Grades and Lives from NY Times blog click here

Wired Parent, Wired Child: Breaking the cycle of parenting with screens and children’s bad behaviour by Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. on Jul 15, 2015 in Psychology Today.

NEW – Reclaiming Conversation Paperback, by Sherry Turkle (Oct 2015)

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