It seems that turning the smartphone camera lens inward is also engendering self-centered behavior in children, according to educational psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba. This "selfie culture" has the potential to disrupt kids' emotional and social development, especially when face-to-face interaction is replaced with FaceTime and Snapchat.
"You have to have a face-to-face connection in order to read emotional cues and experience where the other person is coming from," said Borba in a recent interview with The New York Times. "It's finding ways to make sure there are opportunities where your child won't lose the critical core skills of not only empathy, but connection and social skills. We’ve failed to realize that all of those social skills are learned and they need practice."
Borba is most concerned about technology's impact on empathy, or the ability to understand and share the feelings of others—thinking in terms of "we" instead of "me." This "me" perspective has roots in the 1980s self-esteem movement, which, in Borba's opinion, failed to impart the two essential sides of self-esteem: self-worth and competence. She argues that the emphasis was placed on cultivating a high sense of self-worth in children, disregarding the competence aspect. "It backfires," said Borba. "Our praise, if we keep focusing on you, after a while, the kid begins to forget there's others in the world. They become more and more dependent on [our praise]."
Reading emotionally charged fiction has been linked to kindness and a greater sense of empathy in children, and so has playing chess—a game of perspective. Borba also recommends simply emphasizing the importance of kindness on a day-to-day basis, e.g., "What nice thing did you do at school today?" instead of "What did you get on your test today?"
What do you think of Dr. Michele Borba's theories? Shop her new book below and report back with your insights.