According to a study that was conducted by the University of California the answer is yes. This study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. It found that sixth grade children who were deprived of exposure to their usual technology for five days were significantly better at reading the emotions and social cues of other people, than those who spent five days with regular access to phones, computers, and television.
The UCLA researchers chose two groups of kids from a Southern California public school. One of the groups of children were sent to a camp for five days where they were prohibited from using any technology whatsoever. For the other group of children, they made no changes and used their phones, computers, and televisions as they regularly would.
At the beginning and the end of the five day period, both sets of children were given a test in which they were shown 48 pictures of different facial expressions and were asked to evaluate the emotions and expressions shown. They were also given a video test were actors were seen interacting in different situations. The conclusion of these tests were that the children who were given five days free from technology, had much higher test results on the second test, than the children who continued to use technology.
This is a wake up call for educators who are rushing to try and place a tablet or iPad in the hand of every child. Technology is impossible to get away from and within schools and education centers it is important for educators to keep up to date with new technologies and new ways of teaching children to interact with technologies and how to use these technologies for the best educational opportunities.
But it is also important to have some restrictions with screen time. Humans have evolved to be social creatures and the need for social interaction starts in the very first days of human life. This need has not been obliterated through the use of technology, so it should not be ignored. Increased exposure to screens can have a negative affect on reading capabilities as well as social interaction issues. And this affects adolescents and adults as well as children.
For a much more healthy lifestyle for everyone in the family, a discussion needs to be had about what a safe number of hours to spend each day with technology is. The recommended usage for recreational screen time is two hours a day for 3-18 year olds. Under three years old, is zero hours.
Using technology can be very useful and very educational, but aside from the dangers of cyberbullying and exposure to dangerous people and activities, everyone should be aware of the dangers of forgetting how to interact with other people, how to read other people’s emotions and how to read social cues. Technology is becoming more and more a part of lives and it should be, but especially in the case of children we should be aware of how much they are using it and how much they are avoiding actual interaction with other people and other children.
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