Shy kids may be more reticent than their extroverted classmates about joining a social media network. But CNN reports that there are some positives to joining social media, especially for kids who are shy or introverted.
A Common Sense Media study of more than 1,000 kids aged 13- to 17 analyzed how this cohort views their digital lives and found the following:
- 28% said social networking made them feel more outgoing, while only 5% said it made them feel less so.
- 29% said social media made them feel less shy, versus 3% who reported it made them feel more introverted.
- 52% said social media has improved their relationships with friends, while 4% said it negatively impacted their friendships.
- 20% said social media makes them feel more confident, versus 4% who said it made them feel less so.
What does this mean for shy kids?
Social media can be a place for kids and teens who feel isolated to connect with others who share their same interests.
Face-to-face communication can be hard for shy kids, often making them feel awkward and uncomfortable, but social media chats and conversations can take some of the pressure off of these social interactions.
According to Our Everyday Life, messaging, chatting, and other social media conversations can help develop kids’ social skills.
Tips for helping your shy child navigate social media
Shy kids tend to become overwhelmed with too many stimuli. Social interactions, whether they’re in person or online, can tire your child out.
Today’s Parent magazine suggests telling your child that it’s okay to return to the quiet if they become overstimulated by a situation. Don’t encourage your child to change or make them feel bad about being shy; instead, be a role model for them and support them.
However, if your child is eager to join a social media network, encourage them to sign up for one that is well-suited to their temperament. Also, be sure to keep the below pointers in mind:
- While Facebook can help with social interaction and connecting with other kids at school, a shy child may feel pressured to constantly post updates and photos of themselves, comment on their friends’ walls, or rapidly expand their network of friends. Therefore, they may have trouble “disconnecting” from Facebook.
- A better option, especially if your child likes photography and is artistically inclined, may be a site like Instagram, where there isn’t as much pressure to consistently post and always be connected.
- Yet another option is eebudee, a private online platform and app where young kids (ages 4-12) can learn about social media and how to interact online in a safe, judgment-free setting. With eebudee, kids can interact with their parents, family members, and close friends without the pressures or dangers of other social media networks.
What to watch out for
Don’t let social media become a crutch for your shy child. Too much screen time can lead to isolation if kids replace in-person interactions with social media. Watch out that your child doesn’t take refuge in social media.
Also, make sure that your child doesn’t create a virtual, online persona that is different from who they are in real life; this can happen when a child develops an idealized persona online that is in stark contrast to their real personality.
Furthermore, your child won’t get as much from social media if they are a “lurker” on these sites rather than an active participant. In other words, keep an eye out to see if they spend more time viewing other people’s photos and posts than using social media to interact and connect with others. (Studies have shown that the more time kids spend scrolling through other people’s photos, the more likely they are to feel depressed or envious.)
The key lies in teaching your child to find a healthy balance between social media and real life.