The Impact of Screen Time on Adolescents’ Social Skills

The Impact of Screen Time on Adolescents’ Social Skills

Screens have become an integral part of our lives. For adolescents, who are in a critical stage of social development, the impact of screen time on social skills is a topic of growing concern. 

On one hand, screens provide adolescents with unprecedented opportunities for connectivity. Social media platforms, messaging apps, and video calls allow them to stay in touch with friends and family, fostering a sense of belonging and community. For some, especially those who might feel isolated or struggle with in-person interactions, online communication can be a lifeline. It can help build confidence, provide support, and even enhance communication skills in a controlled environment.

However, this virtual connectivity comes with its own set of challenges. The nature of online interactions often lacks the depth and nuance of face-to-face communication. Non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice are essential components of effective communication. Adolescents who spend excessive time interacting through screens may miss out on developing these critical social skills.

The Impact on Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

Empathy and emotional intelligence are key aspects of social development. They enable individuals to understand and respond to the emotions of others. Screen-based communication can sometimes hinder the development of these skills. Online interactions can be more superficial and, in some cases, can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts due to the absence of those vital non-verbal cues.

Moreover, the instant gratification provided by social media can impact adolescents’ ability to delay gratification and develop patience—traits that are crucial for maintaining healthy relationships. The constant exposure to curated and often idealized versions of others’ lives can also contribute to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression, which can further impede social interactions.

The Role of Screen Time in Social Isolation

While screens can connect, they can also isolate. Adolescents may retreat into the virtual world, spending hours on social media, gaming, or consuming content. This can lead to reduced face-to-face interactions with family and peers, resulting in social isolation. The lack of real-world social practice can make it more challenging for adolescents to navigate complex social situations, resolve conflicts, and build meaningful relationships.

If you are concerned about your pre-teen’s or teen’s use of digital devices at the expense of in-person social interactions, our summer social skills workshop series is a great resource! Sessions are on Saturdays. Contact our office for more information!



Psych Central, The Effects of Screen Time on Children

The Independent, Excessive Screen Time is Harming Teenagers’ Social Skills

Psychology Today, Daily Skills Are Impacted by Screen Time