Social Isolation in Teens: The Damaging Effects of Being Left Out

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Teens are social creatures. Just pay attention next time you’re out with your daughter and her friends. If one of them has to go to the bathroom, they will likely all accompany her. Peer relationships are a vital part of your child’s development. So, if your son or daughter is experiencing social isolation, it needs to be addressed.

Social isolation in teens can be a result of chance or choice. The teen might have social anxieties that keep him or her from developing friendships or attending social activities, but peers can also isolate individuals by bullying or purposely excluding them.

Bullying and exclusion

A teen’s greatest desire is to fit in. Those who stand out due to how they look, dress, act, perform academically, etc. can be pushed out of many social groups.

Depression and anxiety

Depression is a catch-22. Though depression results in the individual withdrawing from social activities, often what is causing the depression is a lack of validation from peers.

When social media turns into social isolation

Teenagers spend most of their time “plugged in.” Whether it’s television, gaming, surfing the Internet or browsing social media, the majority of their free time is spent in a virtual world. The time they spend communicating virtually can take away from valuable face-to-face interactions.

Damaging effects of social isolation in teens

Though there are a number of explanations for social isolation in teens, each is detrimental to a teenager’s development. Whether it is because the teen is overly shy or cannot seem to find a peer group to fit in to, a lack of socialization can have a permanent effect.

How you can help

Teens who find themselves without meaningful peer relationships can have a hard time finding their way back to a social group. As a parent, there is a lot you can do to encourage your teen to reach out to peers, like:

  • Discuss fears your teen might have
  • Identify social clubs or groups outside of school
  • Talk to a specialist to identify issues of depression or anxiety

How Wilderness Therapy can help social isolation in teens

At Trails Carolina, we combine the power of the wilderness experience with a residential base camp in order to teach, reinforce and practice everyday, real-life skills. As students face the challenges of a wilderness therapy program, their perspective and behaviors begin to change. Wilderness therapy help teens develop key social and communication skills, as well as help build teen confidence and decrease anxiety of social situations.


To find out more, call Trails today at 800-975-7303.


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