A study of 17,000 students found a marked drop in their relationship skills over the last 15 years.
It comes amid apprehensions youngsters are getting far less tolerant of views different from their own, particularly those deemed not 'woke' enough.
Students have blocked public speakers from their campuses and bullied them online because they disagree with their views.
The latest study may go some way towards explaining the trend. It suggested a loss of 'emotional intelligence' is likely to be because social interactions increasingly take place online. When youngsters conduct friendships mostly via social media in written form, they miss out on social cues such as body language and voice tone.
It asserted 'emotionality' – which comprises 'emotion expression, perception, relationship skills, and empathy – fell by 11 percent.
A possible reason for the findings 'is the rise of electronic communication, especially social media which has been linked to poor well being'.
Lead researcher Mahreen Khan stated: 'This is in line with previous research demonstrating social media has... replaced in-person communication.'
She added it had left students feeling 'less clear about their own and others' emotions, less capable of communicating their emotions, less capable of having fulfilling relationships and less capable of taking someone else's perspective.'
The study, conducted by the University of New South Wales in Australia, included 6,000 UK students as well as others from Australia, the US, and Canada. Researchers who analyzed the students' emotional traits also found an 11 percent decline in their levels of wellbeing.
Meanwhile, students' levels of self-control, which includes the ability to regulate emotions and impulses, sank by 13 percent.
Dr. Khan insisted it meant students are now feeling 'less capable of controlling their emotions, less capable of handling stress and more likely to give in to their urges.'
She suggested students should try to meet face to face if possible. 'It may be worth limiting the use of social media and electronic communication,' she added. 'However, it is worth noting that more work needs to be done to specifically implicate the causes of declining levels of emotional intelligence.'
The findings, published in the Journal of Personality, add weight to concerns that social networks such as Twitter and Facebook create 'echo chambers' where youngsters are subjected only to views that mirror their own.
The sites use algorithms to recommend content based on what users have been looking at prior.