Having covered how the use of digital technology affects children’s mental/cognitive and physical health, we will now highlight the third dimension which is the social impact on children and teenagers. And accordingly, it is important to monitor how your child develops and behaves socially especially early on in order to allow for easier intervention if required.
Excessive screen time limits face-to-face interaction and this may in turn negatively affect kids’ social skills as it blinds them from understanding the emotions of other people. Feedback from face-to-face engagement largely comes in the form of nonverbal cues (facial expressions, posture). These effects could be quite detrimental on the long run considering the importance of social and emotional intelligence for success in life.
Moreover, research has also shown that the increased use of electronic media reduces the development of empathy among young people. Since they cannot see another’s facial interaction in an online environment, it is easier to criticize or send negative messages, forgetting there is a real person at the receiving end which may resultantly lead to increased occurrences of cyberbullying.
Researchers are still collecting data from children over wider periods of time in order to better analyze how they are affected. Their online experiences cannot be studied in isolation from their lives and thus their life context and socio-demographics are increasingly being taken into account.
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