What you Don’t Know, Can Hurt You

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What you Don’t Know (about what your kids are doing online), Can Hurt You (and them)

In today’s post, I’m bringing you a very important and timely article that shares with us why our teens are so anxious and depressed. While we may have marked them up as a fragile generation, we are missing an important overlay to their lives that we never had to deal with. Read on to learn how you can help…

This article Anxiety, Depression and the Modern Adolescent in the NY Times really brings to light the issues teenagers are facing today. While many people think teenagers are “soft,” this article helps to illuminate exactly the burdens they bear.

Think back to our carefree days of youth. We reminisce about how we ran free without parental supervision until the street lights came on. We weren’t worried about what someone was saying about us on social media. We weren’t worried about the competitiveness of getting into college. We weren’t worried about terrorism or school shootings.

Teenagers today have so much more on their plate. It isn’t surprising that anxiety in teens is at an all time high. The article quotes Janis Whitlock from Cornell,

“If you wanted to create an environment to churn out really angsty people, we’ve done it,” says Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. Sure, parental micromanaging can be a factor, as can school stress, but Whitlock doesn’t think those things are the main drivers of this epidemic. “It’s that they’re in a cauldron of stimulus they can’t get away from, or don’t want to get away from, or don’t know how to get away from,” she says.

One girl interviewed for this article, Faith-Ann explains it this way

“We’re the first generation that cannot escape our problems at all,” says Faith-Ann.

The environment our children are growing up in is not something we can relate to at all. Things weren’t like that when we were kids. We have to put ourselves in their shoes and try to help them navigate this brave new world. Often, we are learning to navigate it ourselves.

Megan Moreno, head of social media and adolescent health research at Seattle Children’s Hospital says,

“Parents are also mimicking teen behavior. “Not in all cases, obviously, but in many cases the adults are learning to use their phones in the way that the teens do,” says Moreno. “They’re zoning out. They’re ignoring people. They’re answering calls during dinner rather than saying, ‘O.K., we have this technology. Here are the rules about when we use it.'”

We have to get out in front of this, for our kids’ sake. We often say, “my kid can show me how to work the (put your favorite electronic device here).” We leave it to the younger generation to figure it out and teach us. We can’t do that. We have to learn about it and then decide on the best way to use these tools and then create reasonable rules to help our kids survive the onslaught of “being on” all the time.

If you find out your child has been self-harming to relieve stress or is involved in online apps that you find disturbing, try not to react with overwhelming negativity, try instead to be supportive. Ask how you can help? Seek help for them. Join a group of parents who are learning how to help their children cope. You might think you are involved in your child’s life by going to ball games and helping with homework but this is from our era. Now, to be involved in your child’s life, means learning about all the different media outlets and providing rules and support to help your child navigate these. It’s time to step up parents. We can’t just relegate electronic devices to our kids and wait for them to teach us. They need us. They need us to research, ask, find out all we can and “be there” with your kids in this brave new and often cruel world.

To read the full article, go here http://time.com/magazine/us/4547305/november-7th-2016-vol-188-no-19-u-s/



4 thoughts on “What you Don’t Know, Can Hurt You

  1. Wanda, this is an excellent post that sheds light on all the important things. I watched a very illuminating documentary a few years ago called “There’s no 3G in heaven”, and it’s chilling! The internet trolls, the abuse, the victimisation and bullying that modern day kids can be subject to, all behind the veil / anonymity of a screen. We, as the guardians of their innocence, have a tough job ahead of us, but we must act our part!

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    1. Jolene, thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post. I have been to several inservices with police officers who tell us of all these apps that encourage kids to post and converse with unknown people and that it is TOTALLY secret to their parents. Very scary indeed! Our job is a difficult one to be sure during these trying days, but we just have to step up and do it. Our kids are counting on us.

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