We are seeing today’s kids using wireless devices at early ages to do everything from staying connected with family and friends to using applications for education and entertainment. According to Digital Information World, 65% of pre-teen kids, under the age of 13 own their own cell phone, 57% of kids use their phone mainly for gaming, and 42% of kids report spending 30+ hours a week on their phones.* This much access, use and dependence on technology at such early stages of development can have a negative impact on positive social development. It is estimated that 60 to 90 percent of communication is unspoken. Nonverbal communication expresses feelings and attitudes that may not match what is being said. Because so much of communication is nonverbal it is impossible to replicate through technology, we cannot learn emotions through emojis!
Kids need to have real-life experiences and opportunities to communicate and interact with people in the real world to develop the skills necessary to build and maintain healthy relationships. As parents and teachers, we can help cultivate positive social-emotional development if we follow the 3 C’s: Communicate, Connect, Contribute.
Communicate: Set clear expectations about screen time and teach social skills that help kids develop real life communication skills. Basic skills to help kids communicate face-to-face include: Greeting Others, Having a Conversation, Listening, Working with Others, and Disagreeing. These skills provide the foundation for kids to develop healthy relationships off-line. Click the links provided for FREE social skill lesson plans.
Connect: Once we communicate these skills with kids, we need to provide opportunities for them to practice these skills and connect in real life. As educators, we can practice Greeting Others and Having a Conversation as kids enter our building/classroom. This helps us connect with students and build relationships. There are many opportunities during the school day for kids to practice Working with Others and Listening. Another great way to connect with kids and practice social skills is through board games. Kids love board games! Playing board games together provides opportunities to practice Listening, Having a Conversation, Working with Others and even Disagreeing! Check out a BRAND NEW social skills card game from the Boys Town Press!
Here are a couple of examples of greeting students at the door that we love:
Contribute: As kids experience positive they develop the confidence to actively participate and contribute in real life situations. When kids feel they can actively contribute and make a difference they develop resiliency, hope and a positive outlook. Everyone wants to feel that they are valuable and make contribute something in relationships and socially. We can create opportunities for kids to contribute in our classrooms, homes and communities leading to a healthy sense of self-confidence and belonging.
Technology will never be able to replace vital ingredients to human development and healthy relationships. A reliance on relationships built in cyber-space will never fill that innate desire to connect with another human being. We can help kids be successful in real-life interactions when we Communicate the social skills they need to be able to Connect and Contribute.