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What Happens When You Tear 6th Graders Away From Their Gadgets for 5 Days

What Happens When You Tear 6th Graders Away From Their Gadgets for 5 Days
To be a modern American, child or adult, is to spend a third of your day staring at a screen. Children ages 8 to 18 spend an incredible seven and a half hours a day — outside of school — using some sort of electronic media, and adults are slightly worse, racking up an additional half-hour of screen time. It’s not yet clear what impact this is having on face-to-face communication, and that’s especially true for the kids who are growing up glued to an iPad. So one team of researchers decided to try to find out, and they took a creative approach. Instead of measuring what happened to kids who used these devices, they measured what happened to kids whose gadgets were taken away.

A group of sixth graders at a public elementary school in Southern California spent five days on a school trip at a nature camp while a bunch of their classmates, the control group, stayed at school (don’t worry — they’d get their turn at camp later). Before camp started, researchers surveyed both groups of kids on their media habits, and both sets reported an average of four and a half hours a day of screen time outside of school. Both groups also took two tests designed to indicate how skilled they were at reading emotions: One test showed four dozen sets of child and adult faces, and the kids were asked to name the emotions they saw in those faces. The other was…
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