A day after we published two related predictions — “The desire to be connected 24/7 may change in 2012” and “We may be immersed in social media, but we’ll spend less time with actual people” — the Wall St. Journal published an article, Study: Face Time Benefits Preteens. (You can check out those predictions here.)
Stanford University researchers found, according to the Journal, that “media multitasking can hurt social and emotional development in preteen girls. And the researchers found a simple remedy—face-to-face talks.”
In fact, the Journal reported that “the study, published in Developmental Psychology, found that heavy digital multitasking and more time spent in front of screens correlated with poor emotional and social health—including low social confidence, not feeling normal, having more friends whom parents perceive as poor influences and even sleeping less. Passively watching videos, online or on television, was also strongly associated with negative health measures.”
A key point, which we did not discuss, is that because “everyone is looking at their devices instead,” they miss the the tone of people’s voices, their facial expressions and body posture. The result: according to Clifford Nass, a communications professor at Stanford
and co-author of the study with Roy Pea, an education professor
, is that “The most important message is that face-to-face communication is just enormously important and there has been a dramatic decline in that, among kids and among families.”
As the media writes about these issues, one that will get increasing attention is the growing inability to read emotions.