Supporting Social Skills and Self-Regulation in a Digitized World

Apr 28 2022

Key Takeaway:

The more frequently and longer students spend time online, the lower the ratings of self-regulation in digital contexts. Yet, parental control and explicit teaching of digital skills can positively impact self-regulation. Technology in the classroom can enhance motivation, collaboration with peers, and engagement; however, it is not clear if the tools hamper skills like attention and self-regulation. —Frankie Garbutt

It is argued that social-emotional skills such as empathy, perspective, self-control and self-regulation are essential skills in the 21st century. However, one must consider how teaching these skills might need to be adapted at home and in school when today’s children have constant access to social media and the internet, requiring a new approach to self-regulation and self-control. The author of this study set out to find “what benefits for, and risks to, students’ cognitive and social and emotional skills are created by ubiquitous access.”

Self-rating is a means to examine the development of social-emotional skills. It “measures extraversion (sociability, engages in class activities), agreeableness  (empathy, wants to help), conscientiousness (self-regulation, perseveres at activities), neuroticism (framed positively as emotional stability), and openness to experience (curiosity, appreciates new experiences).” Technology in the classroom can enhance motivation, collaboration with peers, and engagement, but it is not clear if the tools hamper skills like attention and self-regulation. At home, students’ use of digital tools is largely impacted by “time spent online, types of activities, and parental guidance.” 

Changes in Self-Regulation and Social Skills Due to Technology Use

Initially, the results related to social skills showed a downward trend in the skills of self-regulation in digital and non-digital context, whereas the other skills seemed to not be affected because “ratings of the dimensions most clearly related to social skills, extraversion, and agreeableness did not have a consistent trend.“ The results of the study showed five trends:

Implications for Schools

The authors discussed that schools can be beneficial when teaching children about self-regulation in a digital context because metacognitive skills and self-regulation are skills consistently taught, which can respectively support the students’ use of digital tools. 

Moreover, “like self-regulation, the community of practice involving parents, teachers, and students had a focus on positive online interactions. In contrast, engaging in social media activities at home was associated with higher ratings of social skills in digital (but not in non-digital) contexts.”

Overall, schools are an environment in which students can learn valuable skills, such as self-regulation and social skills, in the ever increasing digital world when complimented by parental involvement and guidance at home. The authors suggest that further research should investigate how parents and schools can respectively support the building of these skills. 

Summarized Article:

McNaughton, S., Zhu, T., Rosedale, N., Jesson, R., Oldehaver, J., & Williamson, R. (2022). In school and out of school digital use and the development of children’s self‐regulation and social skills. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(1), 236-257.

Summary by: Frankie Garbutt – Frankie believes that the MARIO Framework encourages students to become reflective, independent learners who progress at their own rate.

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