How Can you Help your Adolescent Kids Deal with Problems Created by Technology?
Adolescence, generally equated with the teenage years is usually a difficult phase of life. Most adolescents live under the impression that nobody understands their perspectives, aims and aspirations; and that the older generation has no regard for their choices and opinions. There is often a conflict when their desire or claim for independence and autonomy is received with stark refusal from their parents. Most parents find dealing with their adolescent kids a herculean task. As the current generation is increasingly taking to technology, the problem is being aggravated. Newer adolescence-related challenges, resulting from the increasing use of technology have emerged which accentuates the complexities of this phase.
Technology-fuelled adolescent problems
While technology has revolutionised the way we perceived life, on the flip side it has also led to behavioural and psychosocial problems in adolescents.
- Behavioural problems– Exposure to digital media and social media platforms is an almost incessant phenomenon these days, with adolescents being no exception to it. At an age when the faculty of distinguishing right from wrong is not completely developed, adolescents might be adversely affected by content that is not age-appropriate for them. For instance, violent visuals and usage of foul words might promote aggressiveness and socially-unacceptable behaviour, while sexually loaded content might prick their natural curiosity, leading to unforeseen situations.
- Psychological problems– Adolescence is an age when children grow highly conscious of themselves, on account of the biological changes happening to them and the resultant way in which they are perceived by their peers. The many stereotypical posts on social media, emphasising masculinity and beauty as defining parameters, negatively impacts their psyche. These might also colour their opinions, which in turn could drive their future decisions.
Inferiority complex and Narcissism- The number of likes and comments garnered on pictures posted or opinion voiced on social media don’t remain just at that. A lot of thought goes behind decoding the number of likes or the nature of comments. Why couldn’t I get as many likes as my friends?” “Why didn’t anybody comment on my post?” And then the answers follow: “probably I am not beautiful.” Or opinionated. Or smart. Or anything! The result of all such deductions and analysis finally lead to the development of inferiority complex in teenagers, a problem that might require a lot of effort and counselling to come out of. The opposite of inferiority complex is narcissism—the inflated impression one has of oneself. Here, again social media plays a crucial role in flattering one’s sense of pride.
- Safety-at-stake- Haunted by the feeling of loneliness, and of not being understood by parents, adolescents increasingly spend time with their friends on virtual space. While this might lay the foundation of really healthy friendships, it is not without its dangers. Mental and emotional abuse of innocent girls and boys in the forms of cyberbullying and cybercrimes like sexual harassment, mental abuse, seeking favours on the pretext of false promises and many more abound. Technology is largely being used to send threatening or embarrassing messages or videos to victimise adolescents and obtain favours from them. Such instances might greatly affect their self-respect and also lay grounds for mental problems like anxiety and insecurity, and create trust issues.
How can parents help adolescents tackle the problems?
- Importance of talking– Talking to adolescents is the best way to help them cope with their problems. This involves thinking beyond their own times and understanding their perspectives and acknowledging their changing needs. Words of compassion and empathy from parents can be most effective for children grappling with adolescent problems. You would have to make them realise that interactions in the physical world can be as meaningful and enjoyable as interactions in online platforms.
- Befriend them, give them time– Parents should create a level of comfort and trust where their adolescent kids can freely talk to them about their problems. That level of trust where the child knows that for a single mistake of his, he would not be judged, is crucial to a healthy parent-children interaction. Taking them for a vacation, organising small parties for their friends, spending quality family time are good ways of enriching the bond.
- Give them their space– It is necessary to allow adolescents s a certain degree of control over their own lives. It is fine if they want to sometimes socialise in the virtual space. Constantly monitoring their activities or trying to control their every step, preaching on changing times, etc. can have the reverse effect and are not as important as helping them develop the faculty to differentiate right from wrong.