(The following excerpt from Why Empathy Is Declining In Students And What We Can Do by Tim Elmore recently appeared on psychology today.com. To view it in it entirety click on the link below.)
As we keep our ear to the ground, we continue to hear reports that emotional intelligence—and specifically empathy—is spiraling downward among kids. The sociology department at the University of Michigan, led by Dr. William Axinn at the Population Studies Center, tells us that college students today are approximately 40 percent less empathetic than they were just ten years ago. That’s quite a drop. I find it quite strange that in a generation more connected to each other than ever, young adults find it increasingly difficult to feel compassion toward each other.
Why is that?
Let me remind you of the realities in their world.
1. Screen time
As screen time goes up, empathy goes down.
You’re response: Balance screen time with face-to-face time and explain it.
2. Information Overload
Between commercial messages, texts, emails, Facebook posts, Instagrams, YouTube videos, etc, a student today receives about 1,000 messages every day.
Your response: Talk about this reality with your students and let them “own” how they must filter out unnecessary information so they can digest what really matters.
3. Consequential Behavior
Kids have grown up in a world where mistakes or tragedy they witness often doesn’t carry consequences.
Your response: The next time a student fails, be sure they feel the consequences.
4. Virtual Reality.
I’ve said this for years. Students have lots of experiences, but many are virtual.
Your response: Take your students to experience poverty or disease in a homeless shelter or a cancer ward.
5. Role Models.
Sometimes, students fail to develop empathy because they see a generation of adults lead with a jaded, cynical attitude.
Your response: Be intentional to talking over current events, like school shootings or victims of natural disasters and share your feelings about them.