Many parents are concerned about how developmental cultural background could affect infants. We know that our elementary school students are gathering new social and cognitive skills at a stunning pace, and we don’t want hours spent glued to an iPad to hamper that. But puberty is an equally critical time of rapid growth, and very few of us are paying attention to how our teenagers’ use of technology—much more concentrated and intimate than a 3-year-old playing with dad’s iPhone—is influencing them. In reality, experts worry that the social media and text messages that have become so central to teenage life are fostering anxiety and reducing self-esteem.
Young people say there might be fair grounds to concern. A report commissioned by the Royal Public Health Society asked UK ages 14-24 whether social media sites have an impact on people’s health and well-being. Results of the study showed that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all resulted in heightened feelings of depression, anxiety, negative picture of the body and isolation.
Teens are specialists of staying engaged in the hours after school until long past bedtime. When they’re not doing their homework and when they are, they’re either online and on their mobile, messaging, tweeting, trolling, browsing, you name it.
Of course, before everybody had an Instagram account teens still kept busy, but they’re more likely to do their talking on the phone or in person while they were chilling out at the supermarket. It may have sounds like lots of aimless hanging around, but what they were doing was interacting, engaging with talents, and thriving and failing in lots of tiny real-time experiences that children are missing out on today. For one thing, while looking at a screen, modern teens learn to do the majority of their communication, not another person.
Reducing the Risks:
Talking implicitly, it definitely poses a barrier to effective contact but that’s not all. Understanding how to make friends is a significant part of growing up, as well as a certain amount of risk-taking is needed for friendship. That’s true in making a new friend, but it’s also true in keeping friends. If there are things that need to be answered — big or small — it takes the confidence to be truthful about your thoughts, and then hear what the other person has to say. Trying to learn to traverse these bridges efficiently is part of what makes friendship fun and exciting, and also scary.
But when friendship is done online and through text, children do so in a context that is robbed of many of the most personal – and sometimes terrifying aspects of communication. It’s extremely easy when you’re texting to keep your guard up, so there’s less at stake. You don’t hear or see the effect your words have on someone else. Because the conversation doesn’t take place in real time, each party can take more time to consider an answer. No wonder kids say it’s “too intense” to call someone on the phone — it requires more direct communication, and if you’re not used to it, it may be scary.
The first thing parents can do to reduce the dangers of technology is first to limit their own use. It is up to the parents to set a clear example of what appears to be safe computer use. Some of us check our phones or emails too often, either out of genuine curiosity or out of a nervous habit. Kids would be able to see our faces, not to see our heads bent over a phone. Establish technology-free zones in the house and technology-free hours when nobody, including mom and dad, is using the devices. Get up a half hour earlier in the morning than your parents, and then check your messages. Pay them full attention before they are out of the house.