The scene of both adults and teenagers immersed in their mobile devices without paying attention to the world has become all too familiar. In the digital world where the vast majority of communication is done through the keyboard or touch screen, not only you but your child is no longer understanding what a directly meaningful conversation means.
Although we cannot deny the benefits these digital devices bring to people’s lives, spending too much time on technology has significantly reduced the time spent on real-life meetings, face-to-face conversations and other essential developmental activities of the child.
In short, the misbalance between technology and social skills is becoming negative each day, leading to a serious lack of crucial skills and their relationships with friends.
And what are the compulsory social skills that are gradually being compromised by spending so much time on technology? The article will show you.
Technology and social skills: Tech has replaced direct communication
One study reports that SMS and instant messaging have become the primary choice of communication among teenagers.
This is alarming because instant messaging and SMS lack body language, interactions, and meaningful non-verbal exchanges that can only come from a face-to-face conversation. It is learning, understanding, using body language that will allow children to develop into more capable communicators in the future. Below are some evident examples of how imbalanced the relationship between technology and social skills is:
Sometimes you do not need to say anything, just with one look, one staring, the opposite person can understand what you are implying. And conversely, only by understanding eye contact can your child know if the person he is communicating with is interested or bored with this conversation.
In short, the ability to make eye contact and know when it is appropriate to show eye expressions is an important social skill. However, looking at the screen for more than ten hours a day is gradually diminishing the ability to understand others when communicating directly with them.
According to recent estimates, the average American spends more than 5 hours a day using digital devices on computers and mobile devices, and another 4 and a half hours watching TV. Additionally, the average cell phone user checks his or her phone 150 times a day.
The importance of eye contact is so evident that it is highly valued in human relationships, whether at school or work. This is the most powerful form of nonverbal communication when more than 43% of the attention we focus on the other person is given to the eyes.
Eye contact also plays an important role in the development of emotional connections and can be used as an influence on others. The fact that your child can’t express emotions through eyes is a sign of a lack of social skills due to technology. For example, when a child makes eye contact with a parent while proving something shows that he or she is very confident. And vice versa.
Tone of voice
When the communication is only expressed through the keyboard, your child will gradually become worse at communicating directly with others, one of these is the tone of voice. The tone of voice can affect the quality of the child’s speech and affect the listener’s mood.
If your child keeps talking in a small voice, trembling, or keeping an unstable tone, he appeared to be stressed and not confident. When arguing with friends or teachers, if your child has a high and not-so-soothing tone, it will easily cause people to misunderstand others that they are not calm and disrespectful.
There are advantages to using technology and texting for communication purposes, but the redundancy of this type of social interaction technologies (SITs) can increase anxiety when communicating with friends and decrease children’s confidence in interpersonal relationships.
Phone calling skills
The ability to talk on the phone – clearly, confidently and succinctly – is a thing of the past. The era of text messaging, Twitter, and Instagram has gradually undermined younger generations’ ability to hold conversations and respond on phones.
As mentioned, the tendency to texting instead of calling has made the younger generation like your kids extremely confused and anxious when receiving calls over the phone. This is true not only for children but for adults as well. When there is too much indirect communication, your child will gradually become awkward and hesitant to talk on the phone. In some cases, they are so afraid of listening to the phone that they don’t answer any calls and only respond via texting.
Ability to concentrate
There are many times in life you will get bored with work, with a meeting or a conversation. And so is your child. An important part of good social skills is knowing when to focus and pay attention.
A recent study by Microsoft found that continuous use of digital tools makes it more difficult for people to focus, with human focus times shortening from 12 seconds to 8 seconds over a decade.
Especially children who are exposed to lots of computer screens or phones are often easily distracted and becoming significantly poor in filtering out unrelated factors that affect their main purpose: for example, they easily got distracted when learning at school, listening to teachers or parents, etc.
Spatial awareness and dangerous distractions
When your kids focus too much on the Internet, you become less aware of the actual world around them, creating a huge gap between the virtual and the real. As technology and disruption become more prevalent, the negative effects of technology on children social skills of not paying attention to what’s happening, in reality, become more apparent.
The art of conversation is one of the skills that many young people lack. You have to realize it now and prevent it from happening to your child. Asking questions about others, actively listening and being able to read other people’s visual languages are all part of being a professional diplomat.
When your child gets used to using the phone, he or she will continue to do so when talking face to face with others, creating negative feelings and disrespect for them. Because face-to-face communication doesn’t only consist of verbal communication but also facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice as well as body language and interpersonal space respect.
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Imbalance of technology and social skills affects your child’s ability in developing real relationships
Spending too much time on the screen takes time to engage in real-life social interactions. Children need to develop social and communication skills through their relationships with parents, relatives and other peers.
Not only does it affect the child’s future performance, verbal and non-verbal communication helps develop the child’s empathy, the ability to understand other, and more. Increased use of technology has the potential of creating a social disconnect with classmates, friends, which can leave negative effects of technology on children social skills.
Recent research has also shown that device use is negatively related to the development of social skills in children, especially toddlers. Specifically, the more time children spend on devices, the less likely they are to follow parents’ instructions and help others. Levels of disruptive social behaviors, such as bullying or cyberbullying increase by more time on the device.
Concerns about social disconnection also extend to older children and teenagers. As the time spent on the device increases, the time spent with adults and friends decreases. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, with studies showing that teenagers who spend less time with friends and spend time on high-tech devices tend to have a higher risk of depression and autism.
What can you do to balance the relationship of technology and social skills?
- Extracurricular activities: Spend time taking your children into family extracurricular activities, taking them to school courses and programs to increase the quantity and quality of face-to-face communication with their friends.
- Ask them about their relationships with peers: This can help determine if your child has too few friends, whether he or she suffers depression or autism, likes to play the iPad more, or has a problem related to his or her communication skills.
- Be a role model for your child’s usage habits: With the development of technology along with Covid-19, it is impractical to not allow your child using technology. However, once your child is stepping into it, you need to clearly show how much screen time is enough, ensuring a balance between time spent using technology and outside activities.
Making sure this balance is not enough, you need to make sure what your kids approach online is appropriate for their age. A series of inappropriate content such as porn, bloody murder scenes, weapons, etc. is stalking your child in the virtual world every day without your knowledge. These contents negatively affect the your child’s development, from anorexia, trouble sleeping to depression, even suicide.
So, to protect your child from these threats, it is necessary to use harmful content filtering (porn, sex, drugs, weapons, creepy photos, videos etc.) like CyberPurify so that your child can freely learn and explore the Internet (within appropriate time used, of course), while still being protected.
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