Friendships Don’t Start with “Likes” – VP of Curriculum Dee McDonald

I live in a very urban area. I enjoy sitting on my front porch in the summer and listening to the laughter of children as they play flashlight tag when day gives in to night.

The shouts of my neighbor telling the boisterous kids not to step on her begonias and to stay off her grass are common occurrences.  The boys on our block carry a basketball to the corner court, waiting for a turn to enter the game.  In recent years, this type of activity has waned. The sounds of children laughing and the bouncing of the ball on the pavement have given way to the ping of an incoming text and the beep of a new Facebook notification.  Sadly, I might not hear the typical sounds of summer communication the same way I remember when I was young and making friends.

The rise of modern technology has meant the decline of true friendship. In a Wall Street Journal article, psychologist Dr. Larry Rosen states: “In one study we found that while empathy can be dispensed in the virtual world, it is only one-sixth as effective in making the recipient feel socially supported compared with empathy proffered in the real world.”

Friendships Blog imageBarry Schneider, a child psychologist and professor at Boston College suggests that “Parents should show children what friendships are like by talking about their own so that kids understand that it’s important to have connections with a wider circle than simply one’s family. Children learn by watching the adults in their lives, so if parents value friendships, children probably will too.”

As Valentine’s Day approaches, encourage your children to make lasting (not just virtual) friendships. Model what it means to be a true friend to a neighbor. This social skill of developing friendships may become a lost art if parents don’t intervene right now.  That would be a catastrophe for our future because as Dr. Rosen points out: “A hug feels six times more supportive than an emoji.”

Here are some tips from Parenting Science on developing true friendships: http://www.parentingscience.com/kids-make-friends.html

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