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Kids These Days: Have Face-to-Face Social Skills among American Children Declined?

Sat, August 11, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 4, Franklin Hall 2


There is good reason to worry that children’s face-to-face social skills are declining in the U.S. One major concern is that children spend increasing time in front of screens and decreasing time in front of people. But the unease about declining social skills is difficult to assess empirically because it is challenging to measure “social skills” with confidence and because a strong test would employ nationally representative data of multiple cohorts. No scholarship currently meets these criteria. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort of 1998 (n=18,650) the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort of 2010 (n=15,850) and the National Educational Longitudinal Survey 1988 (n=24,599), we fill that gap by comparing teachers’ evaluations of children’s social skills among multiple cohorts of children and adolescents, comparing children born in the mid- to late-70s to those born at the turn of the millennium. Our results provide no evidence that children’s or adolescents’ face-to-face social skills have declined over time.