Things change from generation to generation, and sometimes it can be hard to determine between the differences that are downgrades and the differences that are just, well, different. In the 1950s, parents hollered about the "noise" their kids listened to, but rock 'n' roll now sits on a revered pedastal in American music history. What may seem to be a generation's downfall more often than not emerges as a turning point in social history, ushering in a new way of life.
An exceedingly close relationship with technology is a defining characteristic of today's young people and not so much of their parents' generation. Predictably, many have worried--outloud, and loudly--that technology is ruining our children. Is the relationship today's kids have with technology a good thing, a bad thing, or is it just different?
In "Is Technology Killing Kindness in Kids?" Drew Hendricks offers up evidence that young people's exploding use of technology is bad news for empathy. Skills like compassion and communication are falling to the wayside in this generation that consumes digital media three times more than any other, Hendricks notes. "The good news about technology is that it is increasing IQ scores and making kids more and more capable of multitasking. The price? Kids are losing the ability to have empathy for one another," writes Hendricks.
He's not the only one pointing out this phenomenon. The issue of diminishing empathy is a frequent topic in childhood education, as research maintains that today's kids score 40 percent lower on tests of empathy than did their predecessors, especially since the year 2000.
The culprit? Because kids are so frequently plugged in and tuned out, there is an increasing lack of face-to-face communication. Children and young people have fewer opportunities to make eye contact, read facial expressions, and interpret body language and tone of voice. Such simple actions and interactions really do build empathy, and the fact that technology decreases them--and, so the studies show, decrease empathy--is a reminder that empathy is a skill to be fostered and practiced.
What is called for is a reemphasis on personal, rather than screen, interactions:
"Putting the kibosh on screen time in kids lives is one key to teaching empathy, particularly if their screen time is spent consuming violent content. Emphasizing face-to-face interactions is another. Ultimately, parental influence will outweigh the negative effects of technology as long as parents are willing to keep communicating with their children."
Image taken from Microsoft Office