How Technology Lowers Emotional Intelligence

Recent developments in technology have made it easy to lose track of time as we navigate through life online. This is particularly true for young people, who grew up surrounded by digital media. As children, they learned how to use social media at an early age, now as adults many of them are finding that their lives have become even more dependent upon these platforms.

In fact, one study found that over half of teens spend at least two hours per day using apps, websites, or other software programs.1 More than one-third spend three or more hours every day doing so!

This was before all of our devices connected to the internet, so what does this tell us about today’s youth? Obviously, tech has a lot to do with why there is a growing dependence on such products among teenagers.

But beyond that, it also suggests something much larger – a lack of emotional intelligence (EI) amongst our generation.

Emotional quotient

What defines someone as having high EI? According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, “high EI individuals tend to be socially adept and understand human emotions. They are good role models because they know just how emotionally vulnerable others can be.”2

He goes onto say that they recognize their own feelings and those of others, and learn from them.

Reasons why technology affects emotional intelligence

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

A growing amount of research suggests that using too much technology is not only expensive, but it can also have negative effects on your mental health.

Studies show that overuse of digital media reduces people’s sense of connection with nature and other humans, which are both important components of overall well-being.

Furthermore, researchers found that individuals who use social media feel more anxious and depressed than those who do not.

It seems clear that too much online activity could hurt our moods and relationships, but what about something totally different?

Many experts believe that excessive use of digital devices can reduce someone’s “emotional literacy.” This term refers to one’s ability to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions as well as others’.

In fact, some scholars even go so far as to suggest that widespread use of such tools may actually promote feelings of narcissism.

Negative effects of technology on emotional intelligence

Recent developments in technology have led to what some call “Digital Natives,” people who were raised with digital technology their entire lives.

This generation grows up interacting with computers and mobile devices from an early age. Because they are exposed to technology from a very young age, these individuals feel more connected to others online than face-to-face.

As such, they tend to view other people as if they exist only for their computer or smartphone.

Furthermore, since most teens and adults use social media sites like Facebook, this mentality is perpetuated through that platform. People put more effort into posting pictures and updating status messages about how their day went instead of telling someone they do not know why they are unhappy.

Overall, due to all of these factors, Internet users develop low levels of emotional intelligence. They may not understand what makes another person happy or sad, nor will they recognize his or her emotions.

Positive effects of technology on emotional intelligence

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

Recent studies show that using technology can boost your overall EI. More than just having you interact with others, this software helps develop your social skills and understanding of other people.

In fact, one study found that self-confessed “techies” have higher levels of empathy and lower levels of aggression than those who don't use tech.

You may also find that using tech makes you more tolerant of differences in culture and style, as you're exposed to different perspectives through blogs, YouTube videos and chat apps.

And while it's tempting to compare yourself or your friends to what you've seen online or in films, this can hurt your confidence and make you feel less worthy - concepts known as internalization and idealization.

These two components of empathy are things like recognizing that not everyone is as fortunate as you, or thinking about how much you could be doing better.

Lessons learned

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

Recent developments in technology have reduced our emotional intelligence (EI) as individuals and societies. With every new device that allows for connectivity, we are exposed to more information than ever before.

This is great if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to spread your message and connect with others, but it can also hurt you in personal relationships and at work.

In fact, research suggests that using too much technology may reduce someone’s overall EI. It looks like the less time people spend online, the higher their overall EI.

Here are some examples of how technology can lower your EQ:

It can make you feel isolated and disconnected.

You cannot easily find quality time due to technological distractions.

It can promote feelings of jealousy or envy when you do not have what they do.

It can contribute to making things trivial by showing us only about one thing at a time.

It can increase stress levels because you have to be vigilant about safety and security.

It can influence how you value truth versus false beliefs. For example, people today seem to value fake smiles and self-confidence over true emotions.

These are just a few examples of ways that technology can negatively impact your emotional well-being.

Luckily, there are strategies you can use to improve your emotional health including limiting screen times, practicing mindfulness, and learning how to recognize and manage your emotions.

Helpful tips for parenting

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

Finding balance as a parent is not easy, but it is possible! If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, take some time to evaluate what things make you feel good about yourself as a parent and address those areas first.

This can be anything from giving your family enough time together, to investing in your career, to educating yourselves about important topics like money and psychology.

Once you have addressed these areas, then you can move onto other things that may need improving – starting with emotional intelligence (or EQ).

We’ve discussed before how technology is helping to reduce people’s sense of social connection, so why not apply that knowledge to children?

By teaching our kids via tech how to relate to others and understand emotions, we are actually raising their overall emotional quotient.

Here are ten ways using technology to boost emotional literacy in young people.

Helpful tips for technology

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

Being able to recognize your emotions is an important part of living a happy life. It’s also a key factor in achieving success in relationships and work.

However, there are some studies that show how increasingly prevalent it is to have low emotional intelligence (EI) as people become more connected through technology.

It's very possible you've experienced this first-hand. A friend or family member comes along and drops by every day, but they're not really present anymore. They seem distracted, and sometimes even irritated with you.

In fact, a survey found that almost half of all smartphone users check their device within two minutes of waking up in the morning, and one third check it within two hours of going to bed at night.1

There can be many reasons why someone may go through this process, but one big reason is lack of intimacy. When we reduce our time together to short messages back and forth via chat apps, phone calls less than five minutes long, or texting only about what we need to get done, it can feel like we don't care enough about each other to make true eye contact, give each other meaningful hugs, or spend time talking about things that matter to us.

We may also forget how to be quiet when we want to focus on something else, so we keep talking instead.

Connecting with your kids

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

Recent studies show that using technology can reduce emotional intelligence (EI). This is what we refer to as “app EI” or executive functioning in relation to apps. Executive functioning includes things like attention, focus, organization, time management, self-control, etc.

When you use an app for too long, it can impair your ability to regulate emotions, work effectively, and connect with others. Apps that have been linked to reduced EF include social media sites, video games, and smart phones.

By reducing your level of EF, you are also reducing your overall cognitive control over other people and situations. You may not be aware of this effect until someone points out how little control you had during a conflict with their child.

This was particularly obvious when parents would go off on each other at the soccer game because they could not contain their anger. Kids would watch the battle between parents and then say something like, “You guys really hurt my mom’s feelings.

Expressing your emotions

how technology lowers emotional intelligence

In our increasingly connected world, there is no longer any excuse for not expressing your feelings. When you do have that conversation, however, make sure to be as factual and objective as possible.

Do not assume that what you feel is normal or justified. If something makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why you are feeling this way and whether these feelings are appropriate.

If you find it difficult to talk about your emotions, try doing so in front of a mirror or listening to emotional-focused music. You may also want to look into seeking help for your mental health.

There are many resources available and chances are someone you know could use some help themselves. We all deal with stress differently, which means one person might need more time to work through their emotions before they can describe them to you.

But remember that you don’t have to go through this alone.

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