Why Social Connections are Important for Young People

Why Social Connections are Important for Young People

Healthy social connections help us all have a sense of wellbeing, and young people are no exception to this.

Having positive relationships with people like family members, friends and schoolmates lowers anxiety and depression. It also raises self-esteem. Feeling supported has a powerful impact on health generally. It’s linked to increased quality of life and a longer life span.

Young people often spend a lot of time around others, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will feel the benefit of social connections. Strong social connections help a person to feel understood and encouraged. This makes it easier for young people to continue when faced with challenges.

In contrast, loneliness can have a serious negative impact on a person’s health. Loneliness is linked to unhealthy sleep patterns, high blood pressure, an increase in stress hormones and a weakened immune system.

How you can help your teen develop strong social connections

Parents and carers are in a great position to help young people develop strong social connections. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t force your child to do activities that they don’t enjoy. Instead focus on brainstorming ideas that suit their personality and interests. Activities you might like to assist them explore include: volunteering for a cause they care about, acquiring a part-time job, participating in community centre activities like joining a sporting or social group.
  • For some young people their interests are online, a space where young people can make connections, enjoy video games and stay connected with friends. Your role is to make sure they use that space safely, and that it is not their only point of connection.
  • For some young people mental health issues such as social anxiety can make forming social connections difficult. Mental health professionals, like psychologists, can offer your child invaluable help. Some treatment options for social anxiety even include group activities, allowing people to learn they’re not alone while enjoying social support.

How you can help young people who struggle to make friends

Remember that not all young people will have a large friendship group. Some are content with a small circle of friends. But if a lack of social connections is a concern for you or your teenager here are some tips you can share with them to help them make new friends

  • Help them identify things they have in common with others – like favourite music, TV shows, books or sports
  • Positive body language – smiling, eye contact, talking confidently.
  • Trying something different – talk to someone different or try something new like a hobby or sport where you may meet new people.
  • Learn to be a good listener – make sure you let others talk before jumping in with questions or comments.
  • Have some fun – a joke or two can make things light and fun.
  • Show an interest in others – listening is great, but asking people good questions about things they are interested in is a great way to start conversations.

Seek the help you need

To find out more visit Youth Network of Tasmania for a list of local services and online support.