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COVID-19

Scientists explore how constantly wearing masks impacts kids’ social skills

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Sad little boy holds a teddy bear looks out the window. Stay at home awareness social media campaign and coronavirus prevention

By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Masks could be harming children’s ability to make friends - and have a negative impact on their interactions with teachers, warns a new study.

Researchers have found children find it harder to recognize faces that are hidden under coverings than their parents do.

Previous studies have shown adults can find it difficult to recognize faces under masks, meaning the problem is even worse among kids.

For the study led by academics in Canada and Israel, a group of 72 children aged six to 14 were shown faces with and without masks on, both upright and inverted.

They were shown faces from the children’s version of the Cambridge Face Memory Test, which is seen as the most accurate measure of face perception abilities in humans.

Children were unable to recognize 20 percent of faces where the nose and mouth was covered, while adults were unable to recognize 15 percent of masked-up faces.

Young ones’ ability to look at a face holistically was disrupted and instead, they were more analytical when observing one.

Typically, people process a face holistically rather than looking at individual features.

A small child with a teddy bear sits at home in quarantine in medical masks. Prevention of coronavirus and Covid - 19. Concept
(Photo by Maples Images via Shutterstock)

Masks hinder children’s ability to recognize faces and process them holistically in the normal way.

People use faces to understand different attributes of a person including their gender and age, and they help us understand how someone is feeling and their intentions.

This information is vital for our social interactions, which could now be being hindered by masks.

The study’s senior author Dr. Erez Freud said: “Faces are among the most important visual stimuli.

“We use facial information to determine different attributes about a person, including their gender, age, mood and intentions. We use this information to navigate through social interactions.

“Not only do masks hinder the ability of children to recognize faces, but they also disrupt the typical, holistic way that faces are processed.

“If holistic processing is impaired and recognition is impaired, there is a possibility it could impair children’s ability to navigate through social interactions with their peers and teachers, and this could lead to issues forming important relationships.

“Given the importance of faces to social interactions, this is something we need to pay attention to.”

Future research could examine the effects of compulsory masks in classrooms on kids’ grades, he added.

The findings were published in the journal Cognitive Research Principles and Implications.

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