There is a lot of information circling around in discussions about parenting that warn of the downsides of technology, but sometimes we forget about the upside! Getting some social conversation going through the use of technology can take off the pressure of our girls going to an unfamiliar place to meet people, or having to think on their feet in the moment in an in-person conversation. Anonymous “chat rooms” or conversing with strangers should be discouraged, but there are other ways to find safe social links for our girls to practice chatting, such as talking to other parents with children with or without similar challenges and helping the two exchange contact information. Once these connections are made digitally, our girls will have a better idea of what to expect from the other person, and setting up plans becomes easier.
Tip: for initial “hang-outs” the best options are short and structured (seeing a film or playing a board game versus dinner and talking which is more open-ended). Also, if your daughter expresses interest in a specific peer that you do not know, encourage her to invite that peer, along with 2-3 others, to a party or gathering celebrating some kind of holiday or event. It’s easier for young people to accept or decline invitations that seem less intimate (such as a party) as opposed to a one on one “hang out” which they may feel pressure to accept without feeling comfortable (which doesn’t lead to healthy friendships).