Whatever your family screen time policy is, your kid will eventually get a phone and it has the potential to make them a little dumber about various interpersonal things — like looking at you when you’re talking to them or talking in complete sentences. Now, a new study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence finds you can add romance to the list. And, as much as you may not want them to date in the first place, being bad at dating is even worse because then they’ll never move out of your house.
Researchers had 487 adolescents with a median age of 14 complete a questionnaire about their technology use and relationship skills. A year later, participants were given the same survey to see how their “interpersonal competencies” — the ability to do things like field arguments or read their partners emotions — had changed with time. Overall, individuals who communicated with their romantic partners through texting and social networks experienced lower self-reported levels of relationship competence than those who communicated the old fashioned way (by having actual conversations). Whether it was on the phone or in person, taking the time to talk to each other made teens more adept at relationships across the board. Unsurprisingly, they found that boys struggled with communication more than girls, and guess which parent they got that from?
You could assume that screen time makes young people more emotionally inept, but experts suspect it’s not that simple. It’s just as plausible that less confident and more awkward kids gravitate towards communicating via technology because it’s less intimidating. If you’re worried about your kid’s future game, consider working on their confidence first before downgrading them to a flip phone, because that’s not going to help their cause either.
[H/T] New York Magazine