Social Media Can Be Beneficial to Kids Development
Believe it or not, there are benefits for kids that use social media beyond the fact that they enjoy it, especially for more reserved children.
A lot of people think you’re either born with the art of conversation, or you’re not, but that’s not true – it’s a skill that children learn through social interaction and practice. Social media can be a very helpful launching pad. Children can take what they’ve learned online into real life and practice it with real people as opposed to virtual persons. Social media, used appropriately and in a kid-friendly setting, can be one key element of a child’s development toward becoming a successful adult.
Benefits of Social Media
Here are some of the ways social media can enhance kids’ social development:
Improved In-Person Interactions
In some cases, social media can help those who are shy warm up and gain confidence in interactions with their peers. How do we know that? Professionals who work with children, such as Royan Lee, a dedicated middle school literacy teacher who has taught at all elementary grade levels, has seen it time and time again. During a recent interview about social media and introverted kids, at Susan Cain’s blog, The Power of Introverts, Lee was asked for an example of a shy child who thrived in real life after first learning to express herself online. Lee shared the following story:
“Oh my gosh, where do I begin. I could pick from a hundred examples. I had a student – let’s call her Irene. She never volunteered to speak in class. When speaking to her friends, she did so in a whisper. When walking, she glided inconspicuously like a phantom. But on social media, she is talkative, starts forum threads, replies to people, and shows a gregarious and humorous side she never exposes in person. I could name at least a hundred students like this who I have taught.”
When asked whether “Irene’s ability to connect with people online ever (spills) over into real life,” Lee said yes. If Lee’s experience is any indication, as introverted children become more adept at online interaction, they gradually reveal their interests and passions. This often helps their peers understand, appreciate, and relate to them better. Because introverts are naturally more reserved and tend to share less information in a personal setting, online sharing can help break the ice, opening the way for better in-person interaction.
Greater Insight into Social Conventions
Social media can help children learn the basic rules of social engagement – in the real world as well as in other online venues. An article on children and social media, at DNAinfo.com supports this point. “Parents can steer children younger than 13 toward kid-friendly social media sites that help train them for Facebook and Twitter.” One such site is Kazaana, a place where kids can chat with friends and family, share photos and videos, use apps and games, and design their own personal 3-D avatar – all in a safe, child-centric online environment. On sites like Kazaana, which is billed as “the only digital platform where kids are empowered to be 100% themselves,” kids learn that connecting with their friends online can be fun and improving their social media skills can be useful in real life, too.
Empowerment to Make Themselves Known
Social media can be a wonderful way for all children – but especially shy children – to showcase their talents, highlight their accomplishments, and speak their minds. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, two of the potential benefits of social media for children are “sharing content of self-expression such as art work, music and political views” and “developing and expressing [their] individual identity.” The NYU Child Study Center agrees. “For shy children, social media can actually enhance their ability to connect with others and form positive relationships with peers.”
Opportunity to Practice Their Social Skills
ParentFurther is just as convinced that online social networking offers real-life benefits for kids. “Kids can gain social confidence from interacting with other people online, which may help them feel more secure in new situations, such as going to college, joining a sports team, and meeting new friends.”
Susan Cain asks, in her blog post linked to above, whether social media is a game-changer for introverted kids. While the jury may still be out, there seems to be some indication that, under the watchful eye of Mom or Dad, in a safe, fun social media environment like Kazaana, the answer to that question may very well be “Yes”!
This guest post is contributed by Jessica McGarrity on behalf of Kazaana – social networking for kids. Jessica is a freelance writer with a penchant for social media applications. She enjoys researching the social media field and sharing her insights on various blogs.