The stress of being a teenager
When I was a teenager over 50 years ago, life was simple. You ate apples, listened to the radio and rode to the beach on your bike. If the phone rang, your mother answered. A letter took two weeks to travel from one suburb to another.
Today, being a teen is a stressful, full-time job: studying, managing a social-media identity, fretting about the big issues (climate change, sexism, racism, etc.) to which you are constantly exposed online and in the media, trying to distinguish between real and virtual worlds, and meeting the expectations of peers, family and society.
The current mobile-socialtech revolution is different from previous tech revolutions, such as the introduction of the telephone, radio or TV.
In their case your parents simply turned them off if they became a nuisance but now teens (and pre-teens) are in charge of their communications.
Depending on how they manage that time, they could be developing healthy, nurturing relationships, or subjecting themselves to excessive Someleze Mgcuwa peer pressure, online bullying or self-loathing, or depriving their brains of valuable downtime.
Today’s teens hit puberty at a time when technology was transforming society and they are under constant pressure to perform from their parents, teachers, friends, cell phones and social platforms.
They are engulfed in a thicket of Internet connectivity that may over-expose them to stress situations that they are not equipped to handle, and exist in a cauldron of confusing stimuli and contrasting emotions.
What’s more, everything they do is documented somewhere and could come back to haunt them if it is exposed online.
Many South African teens are showing signs of digital addiction, which include excessive engagement in digital activities, an inability to be without their cell phone due to FOMO (fear of missing out), persistent but unsuccessful efforts to stop or control their digital behaviours, extreme behaviour (such as tantrums, rudeness or violence) if their digital devices are removed, depression and self-harming behaviours, and limited social or recreational activities .
The impact of digital addictions are manifold: an inability to communicate with real people, a reduced ability to deal with conflict and stress, poorly developed emotional intelligence, a higher risk of abuse due to poor communication and conflict resolution skills, and a tendency to mimic the violent or anti-social behaviours of virtual on-screen characters.
It’s a dangerous world out there – are we giving them enough care and attention?