How the Internet Helps Improve Social Skills for Teens
Teens enjoy connecting with others using the Internet on computers, smartphones and other portable media devices. As teenagers enmesh themselves deeply into outlets such as social media, it’s interesting to note specific results of these activities. Social skills -- the ability to connect and interact with others -- might improve with a teen’s Internet use.
Developing a Social Circle
Access to the Internet enables teens to develop a social circle in which they can interact with peers, meet new friends and connect with extended family, according to communications director Julie Holmquist, with the PACER Center, Inc. The connection with friends and family can have a variety of positive benefits, including employment and education leads as a teen works connections to find employment or education opportunities.
Practice Makes Perfect
Social skills require practice, which can be difficult for teenagers. By interacting over the Internet instead of face-to-face, adolescents might feel more comfortable and secure. With practice interacting with others and forming friendships in the more protected environment of the Internet, teens don’t need to have a witty and snappy comeback immediately when they converse. They can consider and prepare a response when they’re ready.
Many teens have a positive perception of the benefits of the Internet on social skills, according to the Common Sense Media website 2. Among the benefits, teens report feeling less shy with others and feeling more confident. Teens also report an increase in self-concept, self-esteem and empathy. Some teens also feel more popular from the connections formed through social media on the Internet.
Defining a Personality
Part of the evolution of a teenager involves defining his emerging personality. If a teenager uses social media, he has the opportunity to try out various personalities in a relatively safe and secure environment. Perhaps a teen decides that one personality isn’t a fit, so he can then try something else until he finds the right match.
The process of protecting and managing a reputation on the Internet requires ongoing diligence, asserts the Pew Internet Research Center. As a teen stays mindful of the goal of protecting her reputation, she will practice important social skills. For example, controlling which people know what information ensures privacy and helps your teen learn how to prudently interact with others. Pruning people from a “friends” list helps an adolescent learn how to prioritize the positive friendships and eliminate friendships that don’t have a positive effect. With a watchful eye on her social status, your teen should learn the relationship between actions and resulting consequences.
A Word about Safety
Stay involved with your teen’s Internet usage to monitor and supervise activities, suggests Holmquist. Keep the computer in a common area of the home to enable you to supervise use. Talk with your teen about his activities and check his browsing history occasionally. Talk about privacy to ensure that your teen uses secure settings on websites, does not share contact information and avoids strangers on the Internet.
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