Lately I’ve noticed how many people (including myself) have a tendency to be on their phone when alone in public. Whether waiting in line at the grocery store, in an elevator, or taking a train, it has become a habit. Instead of looking around, people watching, or being present in the moment with one’s thoughts, the tendency is to pull out the phone and search for something, anything to distract us. Kids see this and, of course, are modeling the same behavior. Even when with their friends, they are on their devices.
I have to wonder, are we raising a generation of kids who are afraid of silence, who can’t be alone with their thoughts and instead need a device to distract them? Is this a generation more attuned to devices than people? Is technology causing kids to be disconnected from their thoughts and feelings, negatively impacting their ability to connect with people?
Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.Travis Bradberry
Daniel Goleman, in his book Emotional Intelligence, claims having higher emotional intelligence (street smarts) is more important in the long run than having higher cognitive intelligence (book smarts). Emotionally intelligent kids are happier, more self-confident and respectful. It can also be a predictor of a child’s long-term success.
The five categories measured for emotional intelligence
- Self-awareness: the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and how they impact you
- Self-regulation: the ability to regulate and manage your emotions
- Motivation: internal willingness to work towards your goals
- Empathy: the ability to recognize and understand how others are feeling
- Social skills: being able to interact with others well
The bad news is, over reliance on technology can negatively impact children’s development of emotional intelligence. The good news is, emotional intelligence can be learned and improved upon.
Can you improve?
Since emotional intelligence can be improved at any age, try it yourself. Fight the urge to automatically look at your phone when you’re waiting alone, and instead take in your environment, allow yourself to be alone with your thoughts. How does it feel? What are you thinking about? What do you notice around you?
For more ways to help your child (and yourself!) improve their emotional intelligence, download our worksheet below now.
(And if you want to learn more about how to help your child manage technology and stay safe online, register here for our Social Media for Parents webinar on Dec 11 at 8:30 p.m.)
Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW
I'm a clinical social worker and child advocate. After more than 20 years of working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings I created Sexting Solutions, a successful program designed to teach kids to respect themselves and others, show empathy and stop abuse. Intended as an alternative to legal consequences for kids who were caught sexting, it focuses on building skills that develop a solid foundation for healthier adolescent years and beyond. Connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking the icon directly below.