Kevin Dutton flags research suggesting that college "kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago." A surprising way to mitigate these tendencies:

Reading a book carves brand-new neural pathways into the ancient cortical bedrock of our brains. It transforms the way we see the world—makes us, as Nicholas Carr puts it in his recent essay, "The Dreams of Readers," "more alert to the inner lives of others." We become vampires without being bitten—in other words, more empathic. Books make us see in a way that casual immersion in the Internet, and the quicksilver virtual world it offers, doesn't.

Alain de Botton makes related points in the above video.