Texting, tweeting, and watching TV at the same time may be harmful to young girls, says a group of Stanford University Researchers. According to a 2012 report from the journal Developmental Psychology, 8- to 12-year-old girls who spend several hours multitasking with digital devices experience difficulty with social and emotional development. Researchers say face-to-face conversations may be the solution to this problem and call for additional research to determine the cause-and-effect relationship between media habits and social and emotional skills.
The researchers surveyed 3,461 girls, ages 8 to 12 and subscribers to Discovery Girls magazine, about their use of electronics and their social and emotional lives. The online survey required the girls, dubbed “tweenagers” by the report, to detail the time they spent texting, emailing, posting to Facebook, listening to music, reading, doing homework, watching video, talking on the phone, instant messaging and video chatting. The girls were also asked how often they were simultaneously doing more than two of those activities.
The study finds that hours of online communication, watching videos, and multitasking were statistically associated with negative experiences such as feeling less social success, not feeling normal, and sleeping less. Although researchers discovered a link between reduced social and emotional skills and media habits, they have not determined a definite cause-and-effect relationship.
The study’s authors argue the findings are especially important for “tweenage” girls because the 8-to-12 age range is critical for children’s social and emotional development. The report suggests that as children are becoming more active media consumers, frequent face-to-face conversations will help their social and emotional development. This type of communication is associated with more social success and greater feelings of normalcy, the researchers said.