Speaker and Sessions

IMPROVING SOCIAL SKILLS AND PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR


After more than two years of social disruptions, school closures, isolation, loneliness, and online learning, parents and educators have noticed a drop in social skills and prosocial behavior in children. A 2021 OnePoll survey of parents of school-aged children (ages 5-14) found that 7 out of 10 parents expressed concern that their child’s social skills are at risk and two-thirds are concerned that their children have become more socially awkward around others since the pandemic. 81% of the parents polled wanted schools to implement activities to teach social skills. Research has found that social deprivation and lack of peer interaction in adolescence will have lasting negative consequences on their brains and physical and mental health while other research shows that social skills and prosocial behaviors (caring, cooperating, altruism, etc.) have significant benefits, including mitigating the negative effects of stress, increasing positive moods and health, and improving interest in learning.

This conference will explore the “Science of the Social Brain”, the impacts of isolation and social anxiety, and the importance of peers, social identity, connections, cognition, caring, cooperating, collaborating, and belonging for wellbeing, learning, and a good society. Discover ways to teach students the social skills and prosocial behaviors they need for learning, friendships, and life success.

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Featured Speakers

The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Promote Performance, Cooperation, and Social Harmony

Jay J. Van Bavel, PhD

Director, Social Identity and Morality Lab; Associate Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, Department of Psychology, New York University; Co-Author, “Out-Group Animosity Drives Engagement on Social Media” (2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony (2021), and “The Social Neuroscience of Cooperation” (2020, The Cognitive Neurosciences)

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH

Social Scientist; Physician; Director, Human Nature Lab; Co-Director, Yale Institute for Network Science; Sterling Professor of Social and Neural Science, Yale University; Named by Time Magazine in the list of “100 most influential people in the world”; Author, Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live (2020) and Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society (2019); Co-Author, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (2009)

Social Brains in Adolescence: Peers, Pressures, and a Pandemic

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, PhD, FMedSci, FBA

Neuroscientist; Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge; Leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group; Honorary Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London; Author, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain (2018); Co-Author, “Development of a Gamified Cognitive Training App “Social Brain Train” to Enhance Adolescent Mental Health” (2022, Wellcome Open Research), “Navigating the Social Environment in Adolescence: The Role of Social Brain Development” (2021, Biological Psychiatry), “The Effects of Social Deprivation on Adolescent Development and Mental Health” (2020, Lancet Child and Adolescent Health), and The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education (2005)