Technology is making our children socially awkward

It may be an oxymoron: tools like FaceTime, Facebook, and Skype give us the ability to keep in touch with people near and far, but they are also ruining some very basic qualities of human interaction and socialization in our children.

A study by Stanford University found that tween girls who spent a significant amount living a full-fledged digital life—countless hours on Skype, FaceTime, YouTube, texting, chatting (you get the idea)—are more likely to develop social problems.  

What exactly does that mean?

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Essentially, even though they are technically socializing, our children lack the ability to read other people’s emotions. Think about it. Kids don’t look directly into their friend’s eyes when they are talking to each other on Skype or texting. I’m not talking about a romantic gaze, but one that you give when talking to your BFF. Our children are missing the experience that allows you to learn to read people’s emotions, especially through mannerisms that show nervousness or frustration.

Although this study looked at nearly 3,500 girls, I see signs of socialization stagnation in my son when it comes to making eye contact. I recently noticed he was having trouble looking directly at me and his dad when talking about his day and things that excited him. He had a tendency to look veer toward the floor. It’s not normal.  

We’ve made sure that everyone disconnects from technology and that family time includes face to face interaction. There was a lot of resistance, but it’s starting to work.

Do you think your child is lacking social skills in face to face interactions? Do you believe we are raising a generation of socially awkward children?

 

Image via angietorres/flickr