The more technology, the less social skills

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Robert Maurer

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Technology can be our ally, but it is also a double-edged sword. Thanks to technology we can stay in touch with the people we love and who are far away or lose contact with those close to us. Technology itself is not harmful, it all depends on what we do with it.

Now, a very interesting study conducted at UCLA, returns to put the finger in the sore stating that the systematic use of electronic devices can have truly dramatic effects on children. These researchers worked with more than 100 children of about 11 years of age, who were assigned the task of judging the facial expressions of different people in some photographs and videos, which expressed joy, anxiety, sadness or anger.

The interesting fact was that a group of these children were sent to a campsite for five days and the children were not allowed to use any type of electronic device. On the contrary, the rest of the children continued their daily routines, normally using electronic devices, as much the computer as the video game console, tablet and TV. On average, these children spent 4,5 hours a day texting, playing video games or watching TV.

A chilling result

Children who were deprived of technology were much more capable of identifying facial expressions. Exactly, the number of mistakes they made was one-third less than the mistakes made by children who had been in close contact with technology all week.

After these results, the researchers had no doubts: the fact that the device screen has absorbed the child's attention for so long is the reason that prevents him from interacting face-to-face, and this causes damage to social skills.

Why are interpersonal relationships necessary?

Many parents opt for technology to entertain their children and be able to be alone for a while. Indeed, in today's society it is vital to know how to use technology, but we cannot forget that social skills need fertile ground to develop.

Social skills are very complex and require a context in which they are tested. Only through interaction with people can the child learn to recognize the moods of others and respond accordingly. If the child has little opportunity to practice his emotional intelligence and social skills, he will be less sensitive to the emotional stimuli he receives from others and, eventually, this "deficiency" will set him the bill.

In this regard, previous studies have shown that children who are more prone to perceive hostility where it does not exist or are too shy or anxious are also more vulnerable to bullying. These children have been described as "disconnected" because they are unable to correctly perceive and decode emotional signals from their environment. Normally it is difficult for them to distinguish expressions indicating disgust or rejection and therefore cannot react accordingly by adjusting their behavior. At the same time, they tend to have a very narrow repertoire of social responses and resort to unassertive attitudes that turn them into marginalized.

At this point it is clear that technological devices cannot help children develop their social skills and that it is necessary to limit their use during the day, to ensure that children have more opportunities to interact with peers and adults. . Technology makes us have fun, is able to transmit knowledge and makes our life easier, but it does not give us love. And love is essential for the child to allow him to grow up healthy and happy.

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