I don’t know about you, but most of the time I need all the clues I can get – just ask my wife. But let me back up; you are probably wondering “Clues about what?”

Most of us have probably walked into a restaurant and seen a couple, or perhaps an entire family, sitting at a table, with them all staring at their phones. Research has shown that family dinners are a better predictor of success in life than even grades or SAT scores. But there is one catch – this refers to family dinners without technology.

While it is no surprise that too much screen time has resulted in childhood obesity and disturbed sleep patterns, a new piece of information has come to light regarding its effect on social relationships. As children, and adults, spend more and more time in their virtual emoji filled world, excessive screen time is inhibiting, particularly children, from learning to read facial and other non-verbal cues. It also impedes their ability to read emotions.

Printed words on a screen are only one component to communication. When I sit with a client in my office or with a friend, I sometimes learn more from voice inflection, facial expressions, and non-verbal cues than even the words spoken. Communication between people is difficult enough as it is. But without these other skills, it is often a mangled mess.

I encourage you today, set aside times, such as dinner, to be technology free. You will be doing your kids and yourself a favor in honing your ability to communicate in the real world more effectively.

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