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Five days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues

  • Author(s): Uhls, YT
  • Michikyan, M
  • Morris, J
  • Garcia, D
  • Small, GW
  • Zgourou, E
  • Greenfield, PM
  • et al.
Abstract

A field experiment examined whether increasing opportunities for face-to-face interaction while eliminating the use of screen-based media and communication tools improved nonverbal emotion-cue recognition in preteens. Fifty-one preteens spent five days at an overnight nature camp where television, computers and mobile phones were not allowed; this group was compared with school-based matched controls (n = 54) that retained usual media practices. Both groups took pre- and post-tests that required participants to infer emotional states from photographs of facial expressions and videotaped scenes with verbal cues removed. Change scores for the two groups were compared using gender, ethnicity, media use, and age as covariates. After five days interacting face-to-face without the use of any screen-based media, preteens' recognition of nonverbal emotion cues improved significantly more than that of the control group for both facial expressions and videotaped scenes. Implications are that the short-term effects of increased opportunities for social interaction, combined with time away from screen-based media and digital communication tools, improves a preteen's understanding of nonverbal emotional cues. © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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