The internet has changed how we communicate with our children, says an Oxford University researcher.
As parents and carers become increasingly reliant on technology, the research shows we are increasingly losing the ability to talk.
But what can we do?
In a new article published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Dr Paul van Valkenburgh from the University of Exeter and his colleagues show how to use technology to foster social and emotional communication in children.
“We found that children who were able to engage in social interaction with their peers using mobile devices were more likely to be emotionally expressive and to share their feelings with their parents,” he says.
“In contrast, children who used tablets and other mobile devices to communicate with their siblings or parents were less emotionally expressive, and were more dependent on technology for communication.”
Dr van Valkerhout believes we can create new ways to teach children to be less reliant on the technology and more connected to their family and community.
“Children need to learn that they are not alone and that they can communicate with other people.
If we allow them to interact with other humans, they will become more open to other people and more able to make connections.”
Read more: Mobile devices are increasingly popular as a way of interacting with children and teens, and researchers are beginning to see a range of ways to help children communicate more effectively.
For example, children with autism are more likely than those without to be disconnected from others during periods of social isolation, and many children with severe communication disorders such as autism or Asperger’s syndrome experience difficulty interacting with their environment.
Dr van Verk is particularly interested in helping parents communicate more securely with their children, and has published research in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology (ACP) on how to communicate more confidently and more securely than ever before with their kids on the internet.
In particular, he is interested in using technology to improve child-to-child communication in the home.
“I have found that parents often have difficulty communicating with their child on mobile devices, but that technology can make communication more secure,” he explains.
“So I have developed an app that uses text messaging, social media and video conferencing to help parents communicate with each other more securely and to be more confident with each child.”
Using technology to help families communicate with children in the workplace Dr van Velk believes that we should be more aware of how our interactions with our child will impact their ability to cope with the technology that is available to them, and also how they will cope with being disconnected from their child.
“Technology can create a barrier for communication that can be very disruptive to our child’s development and development as a person,” he argues.
He explains that while technology can be a useful tool in some circumstances, we need more guidance and research to ensure that the use of technology is consistent with the needs of children, their families and society. “
For example, using technology for personal use is potentially harmful because it can be intrusive and disruptive, especially for children who are already struggling with social isolation.”
He explains that while technology can be a useful tool in some circumstances, we need more guidance and research to ensure that the use of technology is consistent with the needs of children, their families and society.
“When it comes to our own children, we should have a clear understanding of how it affects our ability to communicate and the impact it can have on our children,” he adds.
“It is important to be clear about the potential impact on children, parents and society as a whole, so that we can design strategies to reduce the impact of technology and its associated issues.”
In their study, the researchers used a study of the effects of technology use on children with developmental disabilities in the UK and in Singapore.
They found that both children with disabilities and parents had a greater need for social and communication skills, as well the ability and willingness to make positive changes to their communication style.
“The findings highlight the importance of understanding how technology can affect children and parents as they transition from an early stage of development to an older one, and that we need better education of our children and their parents so that the technology is used responsibly,” Dr van Van Velk concludes.