It’s important to have face-to-face interactions so that young children can experience genuine emotions. Unfortunately, there is not as much quality as quantity in online interactions. Cyberbullying is so prevalent because there are no immediate repercussions for bad behavior in real life, dulling the emotional response or empathy for the bully. Texts and emojis may communicate a kind of emotion, but it’s not the same as being with your friend and laughing together in person. A good rule of thumb is that when people are around people, phones should be put away. Save Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook for ways to stay connected when you are apart, not when you are together.
Parents can influence and explicitly teach social skills to their children from a young age. For instance, they can emphasize the value of healthy friendships that offer support, comfort, and a sense of belonging to young people. They also provide social skill development opportunities, such as learning to collaborate with others, communicate effectively, settle problems, and reject negative peer pressure.
To ease their teen’s social interactions, parents could also teach their teens expected social interaction behaviors such as eye contact, conversational turn-taking, and mirroring others’ emotions.