Social media is preventing teenagers from developing social skills

  • AFP, New York
  • Updated: Jun 23, 2016 15:24 IST
Interaction on social media could be preventing teens from developing the skills they need to manage healthy relationships later in life suggests a new US study. (Shutterstock)

With social media penetrating young lives deeper by the day, researchers fear teenagers are not being able to develop the skills needed to maintain healthy social relationships in real life, which may become a challenge later in life.

Carried out by a team of researchers from the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NC State University, a new study looked at 487 adolescents at two time periods, one year apart, to assess how much time they spent communicating with romantic partners in the more traditional ways of in person or on the phone, or by using the more high-tech ways of text messaging and social media sites.

Read: Social media the most trusted information provider among young Indians

The researchers then assessed the teens’ levels of competence in two key relationship skills: managing conflict and asserting their needs, finding that those who spent more time interacting online had lower levels of competence in both areas.

Both boys and girls showed a lack of skills in areas such as knowing how to stop arguments before they turned into a fight, understanding their partner’s point of view, or communicating to their partners the things they didn’t like about the relationship, with the effect particularly strong for boys.

Predominant use of social media may limit the opportunity to practice in-person conversations that are crucial for adolescents to develop important skills, say researchers. (Shutterstock)

Adolescence is a key time for developing these complex and important interpersonal skills.

However technological advances means that “With electronic communications, there are fewer interpersonal cues,” explained lead author of the study Jacqueline Nesi, “You’re not seeing facial expressions or using non-verbal communications. So, the predominant use of social media may limit the opportunity to practice in-person conversations that are crucial for adolescents, particularly boys, to develop important skills.”

Read: Social media war: Who’s making money, how much and from where

Study co-author Mitch Prinstein also added that although social media enables teens to be in touch constantly and feel more connected, “in the area of handling some of the tricky parts of relationships, it looks like the more adolescents are using these electronic forms of communication, the worse they’re doing over time in some of these traditional skills.”

The findings were published on in the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more.

also read

Bad marriage can hurt pregnant mother and baby, suggests a Norwegian study
Show comments