Tips for teens in a digital world

Today childhood and technology go hand-in-hand: with many parents feeling like tablets and smartphones have become extensions of their children, could I go so far as to say our kids sometimes seem like cyborgs – plugged in and absorbing data at an impossible rates of speed.

The younger generations have grown up amid computers, the world wide web, and digital media. Our children have not experienced the liberating experience of flip cell phones or dial-up Internet; they have only known a world where high speed information and communication is a given.

This can be difficult at times. There are days where you feel like you’re trapped in a foreign land as you try to tap your way through touchscreens of “likes”, disappearing messages and Snaps. Our lack of app understanding may frustrate our children, because apparently even our choice of browser is “so old school”. Parents can feel lost and confused at times, desperately grasping for ways to communicate and relate to their children on their level.

It’s time we took a broader look into society’s love of the digital world and what it has brought to the table of parenting. Many people believe that high school can make or break a child, so it is even more vital to be aware of the digital and real worlds our adolescents straddle.

Common sense can go a long way when raising teenagers, but navigating unknown territories can be intimidating for the “older” generation.

Our children are already comfortable living in two realities at the same time:two realities: digital and face-to-face. So parents are going to have to learn to navigate both worlds if we want to keep up.

Finding Balance: Tips For Raising Teens In A Digital World

Parents may lack the newest skills or digital gadgets, but we aren’t completely in the dark. Although, we may need to step up our game and conquer the technology gap before it plunges a permanent wedge between the generations.

Social media and technology are not necessarily something to fear. As we raise digital natives, the new advancements can bring us closer together and work in our favor.

Keep in mind:

  • Technology is changing the way we relate to one another, but face-to-face conversation is still important in the present. Future generations may value it less, but in the meantime, for our children to be successful in communicating with older generations, they must be able to communicate both online and in-person.
  • Technology increases opportunity for distraction. From dropping conversations, procrastinating important work, or losing the ability to self-reflect, technology represents an ever-present temptation to leave difficult places. Those who will succeed in the future will be the ones who learn to overcome this temptation.
  • Technology can be used for consumption or creation. We can play video games… or we can create them. We can browse Facebook… or we can create places and communities that serve a purpose. Help your children know the difference.
  • You can’t believe everything you see on the Internet. It concern not only the question of how reliable Wikipedia or news feed is but the profiles we create representing ourselves online. We post our most glorious moments online, but hide the most painful. We build a facade of happiness and success but inside, we are as lost and broken as the next person. Our online selves need more authenticity. And our children need to know the danger of comparing themselves to the rose-colored profiles created on social media.
  • Your self-worth can not be calculated by likes and shares and retweets.
  • You can’t expect anyone else to guide your teenager. Relate to them about what high school was like for you. Ask them about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Also, be on the lookout for warning signs your teen may be developing a problem.
  • Use media hype to your advantage and use sensitive headlines as an opportunity to begin a dialogue.
  • Supervise- their activities, even when you aren’t able to be there in person. Follow up on his whereabouts and check in regularly.
  • Research sites and understand the digital world. Knowing potential problem areas can help you avoid traps and pitfalls.
  • Talk about “edited reality”. Discuss photo editing and profile grooming. Anyone can edit their updates and online presence. Teens are likely to be “concrete and literal thinkers” and may jump to conclusion that they are not worthy or that everyone is better than them.
  • Remind your child that deleting a tweet or post won’t completely remove the comments. The Internet doesn’t forget.
  • Use smartphone monitoring software to be aware of your child’s Social Media etiquette and activity.

Raising teenagers can be an adventure of a lifetime. This voyage can be delightful and terrifying at the same time, especially as our children maneuver in two worlds at once.Technology can hinder or improve our parenting, but it doesn’t need to be feared. The digital world allows us to keep updated with our teens and help translate their behaviors. It’s always best to prepare for unexpected surprises along the road.

A Selfie – Fun or Dangerous?

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When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we first experience self-consciousness; this is the exact moment when an individual becomes aware of himself or herself as an object. Taking a selfie as a social phenomenon is a way through which people attempt to feel better about themselves. Very few selfies are meant to lighten someone’s mood or draw a smile on the face of a loved one.

The Most Common Types of Selfies

  • “I’m-having-fun-somewhere-cool!” Selfie — whether it’s the beach, a new coffee shop or a hike, many people snap selfies to show off their interesting adventures.
  • I-look-good-today-I-should-snap-a-picture Selfie — Occasionally, you wake up and think you look great! Teens might have a particularly good hair day, and they want the world to know it! While it might seem vain, at least these kinds of selfies (in moderation) demonstrate self-esteem! And that’s a good thing!
  • I’m-sad-I-want-people-to-know-how-bad-I-feel” Selfie — This one isn’t so good. Sometimes, in an effort to not feel alone, we project feelings and crying sessions that should probably be kept private.
  • Just-finished-a-workout!” Gym Selfie. — Again, this shows that teens are proud of their hard work. They want to share it! However, exercise and feeling good should be their own rewards.
  • Other Common Selfies: “The Car Selfie,” “The Fall-Weather Selfie,” “The Barefoot-Beach Selfie,” “The New-Haircut Selfie,” “The Awesome-Lunch Selfie”… You get the idea. The list is endless.

The common sense tells us Selfies are relatively harmless. Sure, posting too many can make you seem like a narcissist but can it be really actively dangerous for a teen?

 

A Selfie Gives Out Personal Information and Appearance

People either take selfies with friends or in other situations with celebrities. In both cases, people have to be more cautious about giving away information of time, place, and names of people they usually hang out with. By giving out this information, the person sharing it or other friends might be harmed if they are tracked down by a stalker. As you post a selfie on the Internet,  you are also letting others know how your friends and family members look like. While you think you are only doing something fun and light, you do not know that this might give a chance for someone else to use this information against you.  Therefore, you are also sharing with a potential online predator the places where you and your friends tend to hang out and the type of activities you tend to pursue. Selfie also sends the Message that “You Are Not Home”.

Criminal consequences aside, one of the biggest concerns for parents and professionals is Selfies Cause Anxiety in Teens.

Teenagers are already susceptible to low self esteem, and it’s well known that they tend to compare themselves to their peers. Selfies take this to destructive extremes because they force teenagers to compete with one another based on appearances alone, and this plays out day after day whether they’re at school or at home.
Every selfie taken is an opportunity for a teenager to express their emotions and personality. Unfortunately, every selfie posted is also an opportunity for criticism from peers, and teenagers understand this because they’ve seen so many others experience negative attention through social media selfie posts.

This is why teenagers spend so much time selecting clothing, styling their hair, and applying makeup before taking selfies. They also use filters and apps to touch up their photos, and many teenagers look significantly different in their selfies than they do in everyday life. It seems like who you are on social media is more important than who you are in real life for many of our tweens and teens.

When a selfie goes live, teenagers experience intense anxiety waiting for comments and likes. If a picture doesn’t receive much attention or negative comments are left, many teens assume that it  means they’re ugly or not liked. This leads to negative self talk that puts teens at heightened risk of depression. The response to a single selfie can determine how a teenager feels for days or weeks to come.

Talk to Your Teen About What They Post. Taking selfies can really get out of control, but there are some strategies they can follow to avoid being harmed or becoming extremely obsessed with the habit. For those who are taking too many selfies, they might start to think of taking less daily. Also, they ought to consider sharing them with close friends only and not with everyone else. Another great technique is to consider taking pictures of their work/study achievements rather than selfies showing off how they look or the way they are dressed up. This can give them something even more valuable to share with friends and family members, something that does not involve bragging about their looks or clothes.

Eventually, like it or not, what we post on social media affects the way people perceive us. And that in turn can affect job prospects, relationships, and our sense of self. So talk to your teen about the image they’re projecting on social media. Together, you can come up with ground rules to make sure selfies are safe and moderate! Then, you can snap a picture of the two of you together!

Enjoy parenting! And do not forget Safe Lagoon is always there to keep your child safe and happy!

-based on TeenSafe

Why Teens Check Their Social Media Profiles 100+ Times A Day

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No one can deny that our world is much different than it was 10 years ago.

Since Facebook opened its space to people (other than college students only) in 2006 then, our world has seen the birth of the social media addiction. And the worst affected are teenagers.

Back in the 1980s, connecting with your friends consisted of calling their house, having a parent answer, asking to talk to your friend, and then making plans to hang out. These days, it is not unlikely to find a group of teenagers (who are all friends) sitting around looking at their phones instead of talking to each other. Sad, but true.

So how did this happen? How did today’s youth succumb to an obsession such as needing to check their social media profiles on a constant basis?

There are many reasons, and here are three arguably most important of them:

  1. Need for inclusion.

We’ve all dealt with pressure growing up, and some people are more susceptible than others. But no one wants to be the only one who didn’t get invited to a party.

The “bandwagon effect” is a very real phenomenon for all human beings. We think, “if everyone is doing it, then I should be too!” Social media has been one big bandwagon phenomenon for over ten years.

And most teenagers born in the century of high developed technology never experienced a world where people connect and include each other outside of social media. So if other people are doing it, they feel the need to do it, too.

  1. Need for attention.

We also live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. With the advent of reality shows, it seems like someone can get famous even if they don’t have any particular talent. Even Justin Bieber himself was discovered on Youtube. If you got viral, you have a chance to become a celebrity overnight.

Since we live in a society that rewards people when they get attention, it’s no wonder that teenagers feel the need to post sexy “duck face” pictures to see how many likes they can get.

It’s even common for teens to take down a post if they don’t get enough “likes”. They find it embarrassing that not enough people paid attention to them.

  1. Need for affection.

Usually, we think of affection in a physical sense. However, in this digital age, we are re-defining the term “affection.” When a teenager posts a photo or a status update, that allows his/her followers to not only “like” it, but also to comment.

Who wouldn’t want to hear “Oh you’re so pretty!” or “Great job! You must be so proud of yourself!” Basically, this virtual affection is coming to teens in the form of compliments. Most people like compliments, but with some teens and social media, it is downright addicting.

So what can be done? How can we as a society stop our young people from thinking that their self-worth is only as good as how many likes they can get?

It all starts with parenting. It should be the parents’ job to give their children a strong sense of self-esteem. If kids love themselves, they are less likely to be dependent on their social media followers’ love. In fact, they won’t need it because they are getting that from their real-life relationships.

-based on TeenSafe webpage