Wednesday October 17, 2018

Is Your Child Avoiding Eye Contact? He May Be Anxious, Says New Study

According to the study, children pay more attention to potentially threatening information and situations.

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Children avoid eye contact when anxious
There is very little known about eye-gazing patterns in children. Pixabay
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  • New research explores relationship between anxiety and a child’s response to fear
  • According to the study, anxious children tend to avoid eye contact when faced with difficulty

Riverside, August 18, 2017 : During a conversation, we often look at the eyes of a person for social cues- this helps us make sound judgments. Drawing on similar lines, a new research at University of California assessed the ‘eye-gazing’ patterns in children aged 9 to 14 and revealed that they give more attention to potentially threatening information, and that eye-contact in such situations is directly influenced by their anxiety levels.

According to a new research by Kalina Michalska, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, it has been revealed that anxious children tend to avoid making eye contact, which affects their experience and perception of fear. According to the study titled ‘Anxiety symptoms and children’s eye gaze during fear learning’ which has been published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, children are more likely to be afraid of people when they look into their eyes less frequently and for shorter spans, even when there may not be any reason to do so.

According to a report by ANI, Michalska believes that very little is known about the eye patterns in children. Observing someone’s eyes during a conversation helps us understand emotions the person is going through- whether the person is feeling sad, angry, fearful, or surprised. This in turn assists adults to make decisions about how to respond next. According to Michalska, understanding eye patterns in children “can help us learn more about the development of social learning.”

The Research

For the research, 82 children between the age group of 9 to 13 were shown images of two different women on a computer screen, four times each.

The computer screens were fitted with eye tracking devices that measured the point where the child focused his attention on the screen and for how long.

Later, one of the images was supplemented with loud screams and the other was not. At the end of the exercise, the children were shown both the faces again, with the absence of any sound or screams.

According to Michalska, the study aimed to know whether the child would spend more time looking at the eyes of the face that was paired with a scream than the face that was not paired with a scream, during the second phase.

For this, they examined the participants’ eye contact with the different faces on the computer screen in an attempt to determine “if children make more eye contact with someone who is associated with something bad or threatening,” she added. The experts also observed the relation between the children’s anxiety scores and the duration for which they made eye contact.

What Did The Research Conclude?

The study suggested that children pay more attention to potentially threatening information. This can be said as they paid more attention to the face when it was previously paired with something frightening.

The research found,

  • The children spent an increasing amount of time looking at the eyes of the face that was paired with loud screams. This suggests that they paid attention to potential threats in the absence of outward cues.
  • Children who were more anxious avoided eye-contact throughout the experiment. This shows that these children were afraid of the faces.
  • The more children avoided making an eye contact, the more they were afraid of the faces.

The research gathered that children paid increased attention in an attempt to learn more about the situation and to plan what to do next.

However, the research drew upon the understanding that a child avoiding eye contact may be suffering with anxiety, which in turn leads to an experience of greater fear.

Even though avoiding eye contact may reduce anxiety, the children indulging in this behavior can miss out on important information which may have further repercussions.


 

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“Register Yourself With The Government Else Get Unregistered”, Centre’s Warning to Shelter Homes

The Ministry said it has issued notice for a social audit of over 9,000 CCIs across the country within 60 days. The social audit will be conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

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Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had asked for setting up Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) at the state and district levels for regular monitoring of the Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) and CCIs. Flickr
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had asked for setting up Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) at the state and district levels for regular monitoring of the Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) and CCIs. Flickr

The Women and Child Development Ministry have directed child care institutes (CCIs) and shelter homes across the country to register themselves with the government within two months and get a social audit done, ministry sources said.

“The institutes not registered within two months will be shut down and the girls living there will be shifted to a better and registered centre. The ministry has already started closing unregistered centres,” an official of the Ministry told IANS.

The government move comes in the wake of alleged rape of inmates of a girls’ home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and another in Deoria, Uttar Pradesh.

The Ministy also said it has issued notice for a social audit of over 9,000 CCIs across the country within 60 days. The social audit will be conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The government move comes in the wake of alleged rape of inmates of a girls' home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and another in Deoria, Uttar Pradesh. Flickr
The government move comes in the wake of alleged rape of inmates of a girls’ home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and another in Deoria, Uttar Pradesh. Flickr

“The new pro forma of the audit will have total assessment of the condition in which the children are living. It will not be a mere counting of basic facilities,” the official added.

Last week, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had asked for setting up Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) at the state and district levels for regular monitoring of the Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) and CCIs.

Also Read: Delhi Government inaugurates three-night shelters for city’s homeless in different parts of national capital

The minister had also said the district magistrates and district collectors should take responsibility of monitoring the adoption programmes which are implemented at the district level. She also directed the officials to streamline the adoption process and ensure its completion within the stipulated time. (IANS)