Technology is ubiquitous in our society. Only a few decades ago, normal childhood included used to include playing outside with friends. These face-to-face interactions with adults and children are a normal part of human development. Face-to-face interactions teach the child to interpret the emotions of others and to express their own emotions appropriately. Now, children spend much of their time interacting with other, only they are using technology to do it, instead of actual human contact. Children are being introduced to tablets and smartphones at an increasingly earlier age. There is concern that these children are not developing the ability to express or acknowledge their emotions. This research will support the thesis that young adults are being deprived of their natural emotional reactions and that this will harm their adult relations.
Pre-school children who spend too much time in front of televisions, or watching videos are less likely to develop their own internal mechanisms of regulating emotions. Children who spend time in front of technology, rather than interacting with adults and siblings will not have the opportunity to mimic emotions and emotional reactions. They will be limited in their range of emotional expression due to a lack of exposure to me. Human emotions are complex. They are learned by early interactions with others. The screen simply cannot mimic human emotions, and the nuances that are used in communication.
Teens use checking their phones as an avoidance strategy when confronted with a stressful real life interaction. If they become uncomfortable, they will retreat into their computer screen. They often do this when waiting for something that makes them anxious. They can avoid the real world by ignoring it. Kids that use technology too much do not have the skills to make small talk in every day social situations. They have had years of awkward pauses in texting conversations. It is not unusual for them to sit in silence in the presence of another. This limits the potential for learning experiences and growth.
The ability to catalogue and understand emotions is an important communication skill. A study found that children are no longer connecting emotionally and that they are losing the ability to express themselves in face-to-face conversations. They appear to be introverted and shy when confronted with real human interaction. If they have to interact, they are slow to respond. Spontaneous conversation is becoming a lost art. They are used to having time to carefully think over what they want to say before typing it in. There is no time for this type of consideration when engaging in face-to-face conversation. Live conversation involves connecting with the other person, not a carefully thought out strategic plan. There is something to be said for spontaneous response and the ability to build rapid communication pathways in the brain.
Communication goes beyond the words that are spoken. Body language, facial expressions, and inflection also convey signals about the message being sent. Humans need to connect in a personal way that cannot be accomplished through technology. The younger a child is when they are introduced to technology, the more profound the damage to their emotional development will be.
Parents would be doing their children a favor to limit the use of technology and encourage them to have live interactions with peers and with other adults. Doing so will help them develop better coping skills and be able to manage their emotions more effectively. Limiting technology use sets children up for better relationships in their adult life.