Social Phobia in Kids

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Although fear is a normal and an important human reaction to something dangerous, certain fears exceed to the point where they become irrational fears known as phobias. Phobias, typically develop in a person’s childhood because they cannot see the difference between unreal and real things at a young age. Phobias can be divided into three main types: social phobias, panic disorders, and specific phobias. Out of the three, social phobia is the most common. Social phobia is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and inferiority.

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In simpler words, social phobia is social interactions that cause anxiety. In recent years, social anxiety has become an epidemic in many American children. A study directed by Dr. Spence Donovan in 2000, found that 1 out of 10 kids is prone to suffer social phobia. This means that out of a normal elementary class in any American school, at least 3 kids suffer from this disorder. The same study stated that children with social anxiety experience intense feelings of anxiety in many different triggers including speaking in front of others, reading out loud, fear conversing with unfamiliar individuals and etc. A more recent study conducted again by Dr. Spence Donovan in 2011, came to the conclusion that as the years go by, more and more kids are struggling with this disorder. The reality is that day by day, more kids are struggling and sadly no one is talking about it. Research truly shows that social phobia is causing a great in children and the reality is that more awareness over the topic should be made.

The history of social phobia is best described as a series of events leading to the diagnosis we know today. Although it may seem like SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) has not been a recognized diagnosis for very long, the idea of social phobia dates back to the early part of the 20th century. The concept of social fear dates back as early as 400 B.C. During this time, Hippocrates described the overly shy person as someone who “loves darkness as life” and “thinks every man observes him.” Yet , it wasn’t until the early part of the 20th century, that psychiatrists used terms such as social phobia and social neurosis to refer to extremely shy patients. After this, the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), published by the American Psychiatric Association, described social phobia to be an excessive fear of being observed or scrutinized by others. At this point in history, the definition of social phobia was very narrow. It wasn’t until 1994, that the DSM-IV was published and the term social phobia referred to how broad and generalized fears are in the disorder. In this new edition, the disorder was defined as a “marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others.

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Social Phobia in Kids. (2020, Apr 28). Retrieved from