The Zoomers

Meet the new teenage generation! The Zoomers! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Nowadays, meeting IRL is like seeing a unicorn… meeting in person happens so rarely! EVERYTHING is done online! Teenagers are some of the most affected! Could this influence their social skills? 

Enter Yalda Uhls and team from University of California Los Angeles. They studied how face-to-face interactions affect preteens’ ability to understand body language.

They compared two groups of around fifty preteens. The first group spent five days in nature with no technology. The second group continued their daily lives. They were asked to identify feelings from faces before and after the retreat. 

Results? The kids without phones improved their ability to recognize body language by five percent! No change was seen for the other group.

Technology offers endless learning and entertainment options. But this research suggests face-to-face interactions are ESSENTIAL to understand human emotions.

Either that or we’re gonna need emoji-to-English dictionaries just to understand our kids. Hashtag go outside!


Uhls, Y. T., Michikyan, M., Morris, J., Garcia, D., Small, G. W., Zgourou, E., & Greenfield, P. M. (2014). Five Days at outdoor education camp without screens improves preteen skills with nonverbal emotion cues. Computers in Human Behavior, 39, 387–392.