One of the key ingredients to a first date is our ability to interact with the other person. Our ability to recognize and interpret another person’s verbal and non-verbal cues will actually make or break a potential relationship. But a new study published in 2014 suggests that our addiction to technology may be interfering with our ability to read other people.
A study published in the 2014 issue of Computers in Human Behavior found that digital media decreased children’s ability to read other people’s emotions.
Researchers established baseline abilities in sixth-grade students to read emotions by showing them photographs and videotaped expressions. They were asked to interpret the expressions and non-verbal cues. After which half was sent to a camp where they were denied access to digital media. After five days, the children were retested and showed significant improvement in their ability to recognize emotions.
I know what you are thinking, “Yeah, but that’s kids.” Yeah, but adults do it too.
Social skills such as the ability to read the cue’s another person is projecting is like any other — you have to practice them to get better. The more you interact with others, the better you become at interacting with others. Every day, our conversations and connections take place from behind a computer screen or through a smart phone. There is a device buffer that creates distance.
Want to enhance your social skills? Unplug. Perhaps five days such as in the experiment is asking a bit much in today’s fast paced world. But leaving the phone in the car while grocery shopping or turning off the notifications during lunch will force you to seek a connection not via wi-fi.