Barbara L. Fredrickson is a professor of psychology at UNC wrote a great op/ed piece in the NYT a few weeks ago. Titled “Your Phone vs Your Heart” talked about a new research showing that technology is affecting our “biological capacity to connect with other people.”
The author found that “the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa.” Like most things, technology in moderation, does not have a negative effect. It’s when someone forgets to look up from their screen to focus on the relationships that technology becomes detrimental.
When I read “If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so” I thought about the power of summer camp. I couldn’t think of a better environment for children and teens (& adults AKA staff) to practice connecting face to face. Camp counselors are trained to talk to children using empowering language and welcoming body language. It creates an atmosphere where everyone becomes focused on each other. There are no friend requests, retweets, or sports scores notifications to distract you from the person in front of you.
“The new field of social genomics, made possible by the sequencing of the human genome, tells us that the ways our and our children’s genes are expressed at the cellular level is plastic, too, responsive to habitual experiences and actions.” Campers & staff become comfortable with being disconnected from their devices for several weeks. With summer camp being a transformational learning environment, people will leave with new things to do instead of checking their phone.
Barbara brilliant wraps up the article by saying “friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.” While social media has allowed camp friends to connect all year long, it’s important to rekindle that connection face to face (& hopefully summer after summer).