Whether children should talk to strangers or not has been a subject of debate for a long time. Talking to strangers has its advantages and drawbacks and the parents need to take a balanced view of it. Children are innocent and do not have mature judgment and this is where the role of parents become important in guiding them about how to interact with strangers. When the children are aware of the dangers of interacting with strangers, they are cautious and this helps them to stay clear from any form of abuse and exploitation. The current article analyzes the benefits and drawbacks of children talking to strangers and the role which parents can play in this.
Benefits of Talking to Strangers
While most parents like their children not to have conversations with strangers, doing so can provide plenty of positives. When children get involved in conversations with strangers, they get exposed to different people and their varying perspectives and thought processes. It helps them to develop balanced view of the world they live in and also develop respect and tolerance towards others in the society. It helps in achieving better and balanced growth and development of the children. some of the key benefits of talking to strangers are as follows:
Improved Social Skills
Conversations with strangers helps children to improve their overall social skills. Social skills are very important and they can ensure success in both personal and professional lives going ahead. Conversing with strangers removes any kind of inhibitions and apprehensions from the children and they become comfortable with socializing with a wide variety of people. Improved social skills will also help them in their schools and academics. Talking to strangers also greatly improves their communication skills and they become better at expressing and articulating their thoughts to others. This makes them better to understand in a social setting and is a stepping stone for success in life later.
Develops Balanced Perspective
When children talk to people from different backgrounds who are strangers to them, they come across varied perspectives. Each of these strangers will have their own perspective and thought processes which the child will come to know. Since conversation with strangers expose them to different perspectives, they can assess each of them and develop their own views and perspectives. Generally, such developed perspectives will be broader and more balanced than what they would have developed in isolation. Talking to strangers helps them to appreciate the perspectives and thought processes of others and they come to respect them. Children can also develop the sense of right and wrong when they talk to strangers and thus are likely to inculcate better views and become responsible citizens.
Develops Confidence to Face Situations
Living in isolation and not interacting with others can have serious long-term repercussions on children. They may become introvert and develop inherent shyness in interacting with others later in life. Talking to strangers helps them to overcome this shyness and avoid becoming introverts. It helps them to develop greater confidence in interacting with strangers and facing different situations in life with confidence and ease. Conversations with strangers helps them to develop their inner confidence and prepares them for life’s challenges going ahead. They will be ready to have healthy and meaningful interactions with people in any situations which will help them significantly in the future.
Children develop better learning techniques and problem-solving abilities by conversing with strangers. When they talk to different people, it exposes them to varying perspectives and thought processes. They come to visualize the same problem from different perspectives and thus develop better problem-solving abilities. Conversations with strangers will also trigger the curiosity in them to learn new and different things and they will want to learn more about the society and the setting in which they live. Children talking to strangers will ask more questions and as a result will get more answers. This will result in better learning for them compared to children who do not socialize or talk to strangers.
One of the considerable advantages of conversations with strangers is that it helps children appreciate others. If the children live in isolation and do not interact with others, they will have a limited view of everyone. They will only have belief in their own thought processes and become rigid towards other’s thought processes. Conversing with strangers helps them to learn about the views of others and it may unearth views and opinions which are new to them which they had not considered earlier. Listening and understanding to others will help them develop respect for them and it will develop flexibility and tolerance in their attitude towards them.
Removes Fear and Unwanted Apprehensions
Not allowing children to talk to strangers presents a dismal picture of the world to them. children develop a strong and inherent view of being scared from strangers. They may think of all strangers as bad and perceive everyone as harmful to them. This can scar the thought process of children and given them a highly biased and unbalanced view of the world. When children interact with strangers, they come to know about them and come to know that all strangers are not harmful like they thought earlier. This makes them think in a balanced and healthier way about strangers and the society.
Inculcates Leadership Qualities
Children who are more talkative and extrovert are likely to develop better leadership skills in future. Talking to strangers may expose them to different opinions and views about others and the society. They are likely to process information and understand situations better. Their abilities to make informed and better decisions based on such information is also enhanced while talking to strangers. Conversations with strangers in a group also helps them to share their opinions on any subject being discussed and guide others. Thus, conversations with strangers help the children to listen to views of others and also project their own views and this leads to improved leadership qualities in the future.
Overall Better Development of Children
Conversing with strangers is one of the most effective ways of overall growth and development of children. The exposure which they get while talking to strangers help them to achieve better mental and emotional growth and development. Children who do not talk to others and do not easily socialize are likely to have narrower and limited thought processes. They will find it difficult to develop broad thoughts and will have limited perspectives. Conversations with strangers help them to develop better understanding of their surroundings and the society. It assists the children in being mentally sound and healthy.
Drawbacks of Talking to Strangers
Though there are many benefits of children talking to strangers, it comes with its fair share of drawbacks also. If the children start interacting with the wrong people, they can develop unhealthy habits and practices which will trouble them in the future. Children are being left alone and unmonitored by the parents on the internet where they are highly likely to meet strangers. Such strangers can lead the gullible children towards different types of cyberbullying. Talking to strangers can also lead to other forms of unfortunate crimes against children which may hamper their overall growth and development. Some of the major drawbacks of conversation with strangers are as follows:
Can Lead to Developing Unhealthy Habits
When not monitored, conversations with strangers can develop unhealthy habits among children. Children should be carefully monitored with whom they are interacting with. Interacting with the wrong type of strangers can lead the children to develop a negative mindset and developing unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, abusing, addiction to other forms of drugs etc. The children may not realize they are inculcating unhealthy habits and practices and continue with those habits. This can have very negative long-term impacts and can badly influence the entire life of the children going ahead. Thus, the parents should monitor the people with whom their child is interacting with and guide them carefully to ensure they don’t fall prey to unhealthy habits.
Vulnerable to Cyber Crimes
Children are becoming addicted to the internet. They are very fond of using it on the mobile and computers. Parents are also giving them the access to internet without proper guidance and monitoring. Internet is a dangerous place for children as anyone they will meet there is likely to be a stranger only. Conversing with strangers on the internet is very dangerous for the children. These strangers exploit the children and can trick them into sharing their personal information, photographs etc. Children are very vulnerable on the internet to different forms of cyberbullying, phishing, and the worst of them all- child porn. Hence, the parents should keep a close eye on their children while they are using the internet and also guide them about the dos and don’ts of using the internet.
Susceptible to Sexual Abuse
Conversing with strangers either on the internet or physically has a risk of making the children susceptible to sexual abuse by them. There have been numerous instances of children being sexually exploited by strangers. Children are innocent and thus they can be easily tricked into falling for sexual abuse. Such cases of abuse form a vicious cycle and the children can end up being sexually abused multiple times. It is the duty of the parents to talk with their children and orient them about the basic guidelines of interacting with strangers. The parents should make the children learn the concept of good and bad touch and they should encourage their children to report any bad touch by strangers immediately. This will keep them protected from potential sexual abuse.
Can Lead to Other Crimes
When the children involve in conversing with strangers without the knowledge of their parents or guardians, they can be vulnerable to unfortunate crimes. Strangers can mislead the children into believing that they are caring for them and later on indulge in crimes against children. Children start to believe the strangers easily and fall for their trap. The parents should keep a track of the strangers with whom their children are interacting with. They should take regular feedback from the children on the behavior of strangers towards them. This will ensure that they are updated about any unscrupulous stranger and can protect their children from them.
Scar the Child’s Mentality
When children end up being subject to any form of abuse, exploitation, and crime, it leaves a mark on their psychology. Conversing with strangers can easily result in unfortunate crimes and exploitation of the children and they will be scarred by that happening. It will become a part of their thinking and they will be afraid to socialize later on with anyone. It can also make them cut off from social life and live a life of loneliness and fear. Such symptoms, if they are persistent, can be very unhealthy and result in different forms of mental disorders and illness.
Children conversing with strangers is a double-edged sword. It offers multiple benefits like helping to build a balanced perspective and thought process for the children. The children are exposed to varying people and thought processes and they learn different ways of problem-solving. They develop a sense of respect and tolerance towards others living in their society. Children talking with strangers also develop much-improved communication and leadership skills which will help them later in their personal and professional lives.
However, children talking to strangers also comes with serious threats. Children are innocent and can trust any stranger easily. This makes them highly vulnerable to any ill thoughts and intentions on the part of the strangers. Internet also provides an easy hunting ground for such malicious strangers where they can bully and exploit children. many children are sexually abused and exploited which leaves them scarred and hampers their healthy growth and development.
It is the responsibility of the parents to regulate and monitor their children and the conversations with strangers which they have. Parents should teach a clear dos and don’ts to their children about conversing with children which will ensure that they are protected against any potential dangers. CWP
by Mary Cotton