The amount of time that kids spend in front of a screen could be affecting their ability to read emotions and recognize nonverbal cues, a new study shows.
Kids who went without technology for five days were noticeably better at being able to read human emotions compared to kids that have consistent access to electronic devices such as smartphones, televisions and computers, according to new research published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) looked at two groups of kids in the sixth grade, one of the groups went to an outdoor education camp with no access to any electronic devices and the other group continued using their devices as normal.
For the study, both groups of kids were shown images of different faces and asked to identify what emotions that face was displaying. This was done both at the start of the study and again 5 days later, with the kids who had no access to technological devices scoring higher at reading facial emotions and nonverbal cues than the kids who still has access to their devices.
It is estimated that children today spend an average of seven hours a day using media technologies, including screen time on televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP.)
‘While digital media provide many useful ways to communicate and learn, out study suggests that skills in reading human emotion may be diminished when children’s face-to-face interaction is displaced by technologically mediated communications,’ the study concluded.