March 26, 2019 by admin
Social interactions help develop Social skills. Period. That was easy. The pressing question now is whether social-media interaction would help develop social skills. Give it a moment for the question to sink in. Seems logical enough. Now, can you answer it with a Yes or No? Not so easy, is it? In this article let us take some time to analyze how technology affects development of social skills.
With each new app, each new social networking site, we are more and more pulled into the tempting clutches of the world of social media. Why does social media interactions tempt us so much? Why do we happily spend hours together in front of digital screens ogling at other people’s lives and making proclamations about ours? If we are interacting through social media, it is still interaction hence it should go towards developing our social skills, right? Does it? Am I getting better social skills by spending time in social media?
In-order to answer these questions and to even prompt more of such relevant questions, it is required that we have a good understanding of what social skills means and what social media means to social skills.
Simply put, social skill is the ability to behave in an acceptable manner in social situations. Social skills includes the ability to read and interpret body language, cues and facial expressions. Social interaction to develop social skills requires us to interact with another human being, cue — social situations. Technology has made digital devices increasingly human. Still, they are not human enough. Social skills include behaviors such as making/maintaining eye contact, smiling and the give and take of compliments during social interactions. Kids with well-developed social skills tend to have largely positive social interactions and greater peer acceptance. They develop a well-rounded personality and are mostly comfortable in their own skin.
The digital world of social interactions are slightly different. The digital screens we interact with might have a human feeding information into it from some other corner of the world. It does give a virtual reality of directly interacting with another person. It also increases our geographical reach. But does it increase the depth of the conversations or relationships? Can you imagine having real, healthy, sustainable social interaction with a person on the other side of the wall? You never get to see him, but you can converse through voices which has been filtered off any individuality. Will you understand him correctly? Can you always grasp his emotions at all times and respond accordingly? You probably wouldn’t. Now, more importantly, would you be interested to spend around 10 hours a day interacting like this?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the following statistics on the time kids spend in front of a screen, consuming media. Please bear in mind that this is the time spent without real-life human to human social interactions. Forget the time spent looking at screen waiting for notifications!!
6 hours per day
time kids, ages 8 to 10 spend in front of a screen
9 hours per day
time kids, ages 11 to 14 spend in front of a screen
7.5 hours per day
time youth, ages 15 to 18 spend in front of a screen
Adults also spend a lot of time on digital screens. According to a 2018 Nielsen report:
11+ hours per day
time American adults spend listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media
Now let us take time to process this onslaught of information. An average American teenager spends more than half of his waking hours looking at a screen.
To make this more alarming, a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health reports that Social media—Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—is reported by 14-24 year olds to increase feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness. So adding that information to our repertoire, let us rephrase the conclusion. An average American teenager spends more than half of his/her waking hours looking at a screen probably with increased feeling of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness. That is not exactly helping develop social skills, is it? The risk from too much technology time is clearly, compromised emotional well-being and undermined development of social skills.
The digital world portrays conversations with such amount of realism that we mistake it for reality. It has also become increasingly easy to portray ourselves as we want digitally. This will further throw us off from the reality of our day to day life and make our world smaller to contain only people who approve of us/tolerate us. This defeats the purpose of social skills development. Social skills development is about getting in touch with increasingly human side of us. Those which cannot be automated(yet). Social skills are meant to develop empathy, feeling of being a part of the society, feeling wanted and endowed. And developing social skills are not exactly rocket science. Teaching social skills can be integrated regularly both at home and at school. Social skills can be developed through social interactions only, these free worksheets for social skills will guide students and keep them on to the path of improving their social skills.
Let us not cry foul on Technology yet. This is the digital era and many leapfrog improvements has happened in our lives, thanks to technology. But that doesn’t give us reason to forget reality. The issue is not with technology, it is with the obsession of using technology to retain ourselves in the virtual world of our making. We choose to exclude people who criticize or advice us and we surround ourselves with folks who seem to validate us. As this is not possible in the real world, we understandably prefer digital screens and virtual groups to real human interactions. And sadly we forget that it is virtual. We are disillusioned when our real-life fellow humans ‘don’t get us’. It removes us further from the reality of daily life that we invariably have to come back to.
Human interactions keep us grounded. It keeps us very close to reality as we perceive it. And that is what will help us with emotional well-being and good social skills. So now we need start at the bottom and learn the basic skills of interacting with one another. And to help you and your students get back on track we have curated the popular social skill worksheets in our website.
Do visit our wide collection of social skills worksheets and e books in the below links.
Check out the blog why social skills matter and let us know what you think about it! Do drop us a comment and let us know how you like our collection of social skills worksheets!