The Social Impact of Digital Technology on Children

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.

The Social Impact of Digital Technology on Children

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.

The Social Impact of Digital Technology on Children

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.

The Social Impact of Digital Technology on Children

Sources:

Bavelier, Daphne, et al. “Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse.” Neuron, vol. 67, no. 5, 2010, pp. 692–701., doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.08.035

Okeeffe, G. S., and K. Clarke-Pearson. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” Pediatrics, vol. 127, no. 4, 2011, pp. 800–804., doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054

Vandewater, E. A., et al. “Digital Childhood: Electronic Media and Technology Use Among Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers.” Pediatrics, vol. 119, no. 5, 2007, doi:10.1542/peds.2006-1804

“The Impact of New Digital Media on Children’s and Young Adult Literature.” Digital Literature for Children, doi:10.3726/978-3-0352-6577-4/14

Chassiakos, Yolanda (Linda) Reid, et al. “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media.” Pediatrics, vol. 138, no. 5, 2016, doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2593

Smahel, David, et al. “The Impact of Digital Media on Health: Children’s Perspectives.” International Journal of Public Health, vol. 60, no. 2, 2015, pp. 131–137., doi:10.1007/s00038-015-0649-z

“Screen Time and Young Children: Promoting Health and Development in a Digital World.” Paediatrics & Child Health, vol. 23, no. 1, 2018, pp. 83–83., doi:10.1093/pch/pxx197

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