“Screen time” is a common buzzword. It describes the time that we spend looking at and using electronic screens – phones, tablets, computers, televisions, etc. With the steady rise in screen time usage, there has been extensive research on how this is affecting our children.
A recent study published by UCLA, “In our Digital World, are Children Losing the Ability to Read Emotions?” outlines how our kids are falling behind in their social skills due to extended screen time. The study used two groups of middle school students and tested their ability to read other boys’ and girls’ emotions. One group remained in their typical habitat, engaging in screen time as desired, while the other group went to a summer camp where electronics were not allowed. The difference in results were significant, with those at camp being able to read others’ emotions almost 33% more effectively after only five days away from screens. UCLA professor Yalda Uhls says the results are clear: “If you’re not practicing face-to-face communication, you could be losing important social skills. We are social creatures. We need device-free time.”
Significant results were achieved in a five-day period; imagine the boost in social skills children achieve through weeks at summer camp with hundreds of their peers!
A child’s time at camp allows them to grow in so many ways, but one way that’s increasingly important is disconnecting and engaging in social settings. Campers have face-to-face interaction with their peers around-the-clock for weeks at a time.
When campers return home from the summer, parents know their children will rave about their experience, but one thing they may not expect is how much more engaging they are. Camp teaches children how to successfully navigate social interactions.
Of course, a summer in Maine is memorable, but what may be even more impactful is a camper’s increased social growth without electronic devices by their side.