US parents worry kids have lost social skills

US parents worry kids have lost social skills

Following more than a year of social distancing and online learning, the majority of US parents (72%) are worried their kids have lost valuable social skills, according to new research from California-based edtech company Osmo.

Nearly eight in 10 (77%) parents of five- to 14-year-olds who participated in the survey said they encouraged their children to stay social during lockdowns over the past year. Most respondents let their kids play video games with friends (52%), call them (49%), attend virtual get-togethers (35%) and meet new people online (23%). But that digital interaction wasn’t enough to help them maintain their social skills—two-thirds of parents are worried that their children are more socially awkward around others now.

Respondents are especially concerned that kids will have difficulty remembering basic manners and managing simple interactions, such as making conversation with friends (41%), meeting new people (40%), sharing (35%), staying quiet for long periods (34%), waiting their turn (31%) and remembering to say “please” and “thank you” (37%). And 62% of parents said they worry their children will not be able to pick up where they left off, even once they return to in-person learning.

The value of school in children’s development is top of mind as 85% of parents see socializing as a necessary skill developed in classrooms, and 44% believe it’s just as important as academic learning. To help kids move forward, 81% of survey respondents said schools should implement more activities to encourage/teach social skills.

This data meshes with how kids have seen themselves change over the course of the pandemic. In 2020, just 37% of kids said they felt like they would be outgoing or talkative once they returned to school, according to market research firm Smarty Pants. This is compared to nearly 50% who said they were outgoing and talkative in 2019.

Research firm OnePoll conducted the study on behalf of Osmo, surveying 2,000 US parents with kids ages five to 14 online from June 24 to 26, 2021.