Teaching Social Skills In A Digitally Obsessed World
We live in a world completely dominated by technology. This is all our kids know. As parents, we grew up in an age without the internet and learned how to make friends and cultivate relationships outside of social media. Teens almost always have a phone in their hand now and begin more friendships digitally than they do in person.
How can we teach them to be socially competent individuals? Here are some ways to teach young adults, and kids of all ages, key social skills despite the increasing usage of technology.
Model the Behavior You Want to See
The apple never falls far from the tree and it is especially true in the way they see us as parents behave. If you want to see your kid grow to be polite and considerate of others you have to show them how it’s done. More importantly so when confrontation may arise. It is especially important for your children to see you take responsibility and apologize for mistakes you make.
Provide Plenty of Settings to be Social
As parents, we try to prod our kids into somewhat uncomfortable situations in order to provide an opportunity for growth. These situations include extra-curricular activities such as dance, sports, art classes and the like where they can interact with others and immerse themselves in all sorts of social settings.
Give Them Pointers
When done in a loving way and along with encouragement, giving our kids a tip here and there will help them tremendously. Examples of good opportunities for a teaching moment can include the following:
- How to introduce yourself to someone
- How to answer the phone or take a message
- When it’s appropriate to be funny and joke around versus when it may not be
- Small talk topics to get a conversation going
- Identifying body language and nonverbal cues
The opportunities can be endless!
Allowing Opportunities for Practice
You’d be surprised how many of my teenagers friends can’t do a lot of simple tasks for themselves that are seemingly very simple. Teens these days are so incredibly competent when it comes to the use of their smartphones but struggle to interact with real humans and schedule their own appointment for something, make a reservation or make small talk with strangers. Before you go on and complete one of these tasks, take a second and decide if it’s something your teen could benefit from experiencing first hand as you guide them through it.
Teaching our kids social skills and balance in a digitally obsessed world will help them form meaningful relationships and empower them to be proactive in the tasks of daily life. Remember that all kids are different and to be patient with the process while you teach them. Giving them the support and trust to grow and develop socially will create a better future for them.