Every Assumption education major, current teacher and parent of an elementary-aged child in this digital generation understands the concept of continuous partial attention – the process of paying attention to multiple things at once, and how it affects overall comprehension of conversation, emotion and information.
A new study by researchers at the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles – a collaboration between University researchers in California studied what would happen if a group of children had to spend an extended period of time communicating completely device-free. To answer this question, they sent a small group of sixth-graders to spend a week at nature camp with no access to computers, tablets and mobile phones.
Yalda Uhls, the lead author of the study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior said, “The idea for this study came from looking at the way my older child and her friends’ older siblings were communicating.” Uhls runs the Los Angeles office of the nonprofit Common Sense Media, a non-profit that advocates for the education of safe technology and media use to families.
“I’ve been at parties where the kids are all hanging out, but instead of looking at each other, they are staring at their phones,” Uhls said.
So what did the study find? How did kids react after a week away from their screens? The study suggests that after just five days, the sixth graders’ ability to understand nonverbal social cues improved.
Nonverbal social cues include information gleaned from people that is not communicated through words. It includes facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice and body posture. Being able to understand nonverbal cues can have profound impact on learning and adjusting, at any age.
Assumption College education majors explore different technologies students can use in the classroom, but they also learn curriculum that is designed around alternative classroom activities that work towards building social and emotional intelligence.