Tips for Helping Younger Children Connect Socially Online

Tonya Elstein, Director of Education
Experts say that any opportunity to maintain social contact between children and their friends is good for their mental health. Like adults, children crave social interaction. For younger children, social interaction can be a very important part of education. At JCDS, one of our key focus areas is developing social-emotional skills because they are imperative to academic success.

During our “safer at home” spring, when we asked what they missed the most, the students without exception responded: “my friends” and “my teachers.”

As much as you, as an adult, need to stay in touch with the people you love and care for outside of your family, so do your children. Make your child’s relationships a priority when they have limited opportunities outside the home by exploring creative ways to connect with others. It will make this time apart, as well as the transition back to being together, much easier for everyone.

You can use various apps or websites that are available for your child to interact with friends in real-time. Some easy to use examples include FaceTime and Zoom. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you likely have FaceTime available already, and other apps are easy to install on most phones or devices. We always recommend that you familiarize yourself with how all apps and social sites work while monitoring all your child’s activity. This will help keep them safe while they are connecting!

As young children don’t converse as readily as adults sometimes, it can be useful to have some activities for them to do together when they connect online. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Playing charades online 
  • Have a dance party
  • Play “Would you rather”
  • Build the tallest tower (blocks, Legos, or whatever you want)
  • Draw together
  • Read stories
  • Sharing time with pets, favorite toys, etc.
  • Marshmallow/toothpick building challenges
  • ‘Minute-to-Win-It’ contests
  • Scavenger hunts

Developing social-emotional skills helps children establish and maintain positive relationships, feel empathy for others, and create a strong foundation for success in school, the workplace, and life. 
Located In Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Country Day School is a private school for Pre-K 3 through 6th grade. JCDS prepares students for a healthy and productive lifetime of intellectual exploration, character development, and social responsibility.