Internet use linked to a higher standard of social skills
Published 21/03/2016 | 02:30
A report on "social intelligence" among adolescents also discovered that an increased use of social media did not lead to low social skills in the "real" world.
In fact, it found that teenagers who spent more time online were better able to make friendships in person, suggesting more internet use could actually support the development of social skills.
A lack of social integration with people from different backgrounds is damaging social skills in younger people, however, research has suggested.
Insufficient social mixing means that 90pc of teenagers are nervous about interacting with people who come from a different background from their own.
The research, carried out by King's College London and the National Citizen Service (NCS), explored social intelligence - how we interact with each other based on our understanding of people's emotions - in an increasingly diverse, technology-reliant and connected world and why it could become increasingly important for future generations.
Dr Jennifer Lau, researcher from King's College London, said: "It is surprising to see that online interaction is positively linked to a young person's social intelligence levels.
"This could be an indication that young people are using the internet as a platform to build relationships with others and to practice their social skills."
More than two-thirds of adolescent peer groups were found to be made up of people from similar backgrounds, and the study recommended social mixing should play an "integral part" in developing social intelligence among teenagers.
Six in 10 adolescents admitted to sometimes feeling lonely, and the study suggested that failing to develop social intelligence skills when young could lead to increased loneliness and reduced well-being later in life.
But higher levels of social intelligence were found to be beneficial in the workplace, potentially boosting earning potentials by up to 30pc.
Natasha Kizzie, from the NCS Trust, said: "Although our workplaces and communities are becoming more and more globalised, connected and diverse, social trust between different cultures and social mobility is still a huge issue."