So here’s a news flash: if your kids spend a lot of time in the “digital realm,” there’s a new study that seems to show children lose some social skills. Personally, I think that depends on what you qualify as “skills” – because if you include the ability to swear colorfully (and why wouldn’t you), I’d argue that children gain quite a bit of skill in that particular area.
Of course this is going to be reported and I doubt will surprise many people. It’s a pretty small study group (100 kids) and not very well controlled, but what it does demonstrate is that in just five days the children in the group that were without electronic devices showed a marked improvement in recognizing other people’s emotions in photos and videos. To me, that just shows that if there is indeed a loss from spending too much time in front of a screen, it’s one that can easily and quickly be recovered. But hey, I’m not a psychologist – and, more importantly, I’m actually excited by the prospect of children growing up heavily integrated into a digital lifestyle. I can’t help but wonder what life will be like not for children of this generation, but for their children and even grandchildren.
I don’t picture a world where people don’t know how to interact – instead, I’m picturing a world were data flows at an incredible rate, where fact-checking can happen instantly, where the whole of human knowledge is at your fingertips 24/7, without having to do the tiresome chore of speaking into your phone. A lot of people panic at the thought of children raised in the “new” information age, but what about the idea that this will be a generation that interacts with people all over the world in a very personal – albeit digital – way, being able to immerse themselves in distant lands, languages and cultures far more thoroughly and cheaper than any of us can imagine.
Perhaps a digital Tower of Babel will rise again and we’ll all be able to communicate a little clearer and gain a better understanding of each other – even if we can’t see each others’ faces (although I think that’s already being developed).
02 Oct 2014