Teenagers Lack Empathy Due to
Many parents are seeing the lack of empathy their teens are giving due to phones and online social media.
According to Teenology News Amy Williams, "In the news and media, we are exposed to frightening headlines about bullying, cruel pranks, and teen suicides. We hear about “catfishing” and fake profiles. We read startling stats that highlight smartphone usage, the percentage of teens logged in to social media, and discouraging numbers regarding the prevalence of cyberbullying in our culture"(Paragraph 2 of "Do Today's Tech-Obsessed Teens Have Less Empathy?").
This issue has parents wondering if digital technology is the cause to the effect on our children’s social and emotional development and empathy in particular?
What Parents are Seeing that Teens are Lacking Empathy towards Phones and Social Media
- Empathy is often described as understanding the feelings and thoughts of other people. This skill set boils down to the ability of a person to relate or see a different point of view. People compare emotional development with the ability to “walk in another person’s shoes.”
- Parents and educators try to foster emotional intelligence. We model appropriate responses, acknowledge feelings, and educate on the dangers of rude behaviors. After years of guided practice, we assume that a teen should have mastered these skills. When they are unable to it leads us to questions regarding teen’s motives. Like when they act like they are the center of the universe. In many households across the country, self-centered teen behavior is very much a reality. “Me, me, me, me, me,” is often heard in our houses, classrooms, and society. Can this issue be caused by technology?
- More than likely, as with most things, technology affects teens in different ways, depending on the teen’s individual physical and emotional growth.Experts continue to gather data that provides us with emerging insights into how a teen’s sense of empathy can potentially be affected by exposure to technology.
- A child spending up to seven hours or more a day on entertainment media are not getting the face-to-face interaction that is vital to learning how to read and express emotion.It doesn’t mean all communication is lost with their peers, but digital devices have a sense of disconnection with the brain. It isn’t able to identify and connect actions and words with emotion. For example, a study done noted that children that play violent video games struggle with recognizing happiness.
- Without seeing those reactions, they could have less empathy with those who are hurt or impacted by their words.Patricia Greenfield, director of the Children’s Digital Media Center and UCLA development psychologist says younger people tend to enjoy the large support they get online.
How phones in the classroom are becoming a problem
Educators don’t agree on much when it comes to digital devices in classrooms except that they aren’t going away. Some 88 percent of American teens ages 13 to 17 have or have access to a mobile phone, and a majority of teens (73 percent) have smartphones, according to a Pew Research Center studyreleased in April. Ninety-two percent of teens report going online daily, with more than half saying they’re online several times a day. Twenty-four percent say they do so “almost constantly.”
It’s a complex issue, especially since the debate over cellphones is part of a broader conversation about a cultural shift underway in classrooms — a move away from the traditional model of teachers imparting information to students, to one where students actively participate in their own learning, using mobile devices to access the Web, educational apps, and other tools.