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Children who take a break from technology and enjoy the outdoors can better understand nonverbal cues

Children''s health
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(NaturalNews) In an effort to highlight the disconnectedness that often occurs with too much time in front of a computer and learn more about its effects, experts set out discover what happens when young children are sent to nature camp without computer, mobile phone and tablet access.(1)

Fifty 6th graders where taken to one such camp for five days. Upon their arrival, they took two tests designed to provide insight on their ability to read nonverbal cues; the first test involved the children gauging emotions in photos, and the other test asked them to determine emotions while watching a video with the sound off.(1)

When their time at camp came to an end, they were asked to take the tests again, testing the theory that spending time in nature might result in changes in their ability to be more perceptive in assessing nonverbal cues.

The results?

Initially, there was an average of 14.02 errors on face-recognition test, compared to 9.41 errors when the children reviewed images after the five days without electronics. As for the video aspect, there was a 5 percent increase in correct responses compared to when they first arrived at the nature camp.(1)

"Honestly, we were pretty surprised that just five days would have that [effect]," said Yalda Uhls, who runs the Los Angeles office of the nonprofit Common Sense Media. "But we think this is good news because if indeed lack of face-to-face time is changing people's ability to understand emotion, our results suggest you can disconnect for five days and get better." She embarked on the study along with Patricia Greenfield of the University of California, Los Angeles, where they found a public school that sends its young students to a wilderness camp in the state.(1)

"It is really important for children to have time for face-to-face socializing," said Uhls. "I love media, my kids are media-savvy, but it is really important to have a balance." (1)

The importance of understanding nonverbal communication

In his paper, "The Importance of Effective Communication," Edward G. Wertheim, Ph.D., explains that non-verbal communication plays a large role in verbal communication, noting that gestures and facial expressions can add to or diminish meaning and intent.(2)

Understanding non-verbal cues is important in personal and work relationships, and allows humans to fine-tune their ability to interact with others socially and to distinguish between sarcasm and true meaning.(2) The absence of this in a world filled with texts, statements with character limits and cartoon-like, smiley-faced images alters people's ability to "read" others once they are in actual face-to-face situations.

Furthermore, researchers have discovered that engaging in too much television and video-playing time can produce feelings of guilt among those who participate in such activities, as it may make them feel bad about putting off other projects when they could have been more productive.(3)


(1) http://www.m.startribune.com

(2) http://www.livestrong.com

(3) http://www.naturalnews.com

About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. >>> Click here to see more by Antonia

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