Although many parents express concern that their children's use of smartphones and social media might harm their face-to-face social skills, a study suggests that it has minimal impact on children's in-person social abilities.
Columbus, OH (Merxwire) - The advancement of technology has resulted in a significant boom, allowing individuals to communicate through smartphones and the internet without the need for face-to-face interaction. While many social critics and parents are concerned that this reliance on technology will adversely affect children's social skills, a recent study has drawn different conclusions.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Sociology in January 2020, although children spend a lot of time on smartphones and social media, the social skills of today's children are not much different from those of the previous generation.
The research was conducted by a team from The Ohio State University in the United States. They used data from The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which is run by the National Center for Educational Statistics.
The research team compared children enrolled in kindergarten in 1998 and 2010, with a total of 32,550 participants. From the beginning of kindergarten to the fifth grade, the teacher evaluated the participants six times, and the parents evaluated the participants at the beginning and end of kindergarten and the end of first grade.
From the teacher's point of view, the results show that children's social skills did not decline in 1998 and 2010. Even taking into account family characteristics, screen usage time, and other factors, there is no evidence that teachers or parents rate children's face-to-face social skills as poorer among more recent cohorts.
"In other words, the kids are still all right," said Douglas Downey, lead author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.
"In fact, teachers' evaluations of children's interpersonal skills and self-control tended to be slightly higher for those in the 2010 cohort than those in the 1998 group," Downey said.
One exception is the study is that children who visit online games and social networking sites multiple times a day have lower social skills.
"But even that was a pretty small effect," "Overall, we found very little evidence that the time spent on screens was hurting social skills for most children," Downey said.
Even though research shows that time on the screen has little effect on children's social interaction, it still requires more attention. Prolonged use of smartphones and social media can still cause damage to body posture and eyes, and image stimulation may also affect children's concentration.