Although technology facilitates more connections across the globe than ever before, technological advancements do not always contribute to healthy emotional well-being.
Most teens spend nine hours on social media every day.
Over the course of their lives, your kids will spend about 5 years, 4 months on social media. They’ll only spend 1 year, 3 months socializing face-to-face, according to Social Media Today.
Even though your kids feel like they’re connecting to friends via social media, their relational skills — like empathy — are plummeting.
In a study by the University of California, Los Angeles, 6th graders who went only five days without using technology were much better at reading facial cues and identifying emotions than their peers.
Recognizing facial cues and emotions is the first, important step toward empathy.
Empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feelings. We are not born with empathy. It needs to be taught and developed.
Without empathy, our relationships remain shallow. We never know our friend’s “inner self.” Consequently, we simply share mutual interests and fun activities.
As “technologically facilitated interactions” increase, face-to-face conversations decrease.
Adolescents’ brains can become addicted to technology. No matter how careful you are, social media and the Internet are full of sensational images and videos. The more you watch, the more desensitized you can become.
It’s called compassion fatigue.
As early as the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999, people were experiencing compassion fatigue. When you’re constantly bombarded with tragic stories and images, you get anxious and emotionally worn out. It’s a normal human response to protect your emotional well-being.
Furthermore, too much compassion fatigue destroys empathy.
Adolescents are often selective when using social media. They only expose themselves to friends, groups, and articles that share their own interests.
As a result of staying too long in this “echo chamber,” your thoughts become more radical and exclusionary, says PJ Manney, author of Is Technology Destroying Empathy?.
Social media makes it easy to attack and hurt people who disagree with you. What’s worse? Social media attacks are usually based on one photo or comment. They do not take into consideration the person as a whole. Therefore, you become unable to empathize with their humanity — their intentions, mistakes, experiences.
Furthermore, without empathy, it’s almost impossible to stop selfish behavior, especially bullying.
Technology is neutral. You get to choose if it brings you closer to people or pulls you apart.
Empathy is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. So practice using it.
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