Growing Up Digital

Growing Up Digital

– for many young people, there is no difference between offline & online – always being on & contactable
– this makes it difficult to achieve the right balance
– parents struggle knowing when to introduce technology
– the program says young people use online services as a first port of call when struggling with their mental health (as well as talking to their friends, & their parents – if they believe they will be judged, they are more likely to go online; sex is often not discussed with parents because they think judgment will be implied)
– the issues for primary school children are:
– am I safe? Am I loved? Am I valued at home & school?
– the issues for a teenager are:
– who am I?
– how do I fall in love for the first time?
– how do I navigate new friendships?
– the issues for a young adult in their late teens is:
– who will I be?
– managing exam stress
– managing work issues
– general:
– friendships can be gauged by some as the number of likes / followers they have on social media (this can encourage “sexy selfies”
[message – you are more than what you look like; who you are is very important; apps out there can retouch images – just like in magazines before]
[parents can have rules about selfies – none in swimming costumes/school uniforms or with cleavage showing]
[some children do “workarounds” using secret accounts, & then have a parent “PG friendly” account to keep parents off their back]
[parents are encouraged to talk about values to their children; also to not be dismissive about their life, including their social media use]
[there is also the issue of letting teenagers having secrets notwithstanding that parents today probably have more visibility (potentially) of a young person’s life]
[social media rules for parents: liking posts of the teenager, friending their friends on Facebook & they are not just the exclusive subject on our own FB posts]
– bullying at school & online
– the challenges are not new, but just in different contexts
– suicide is the most likely reason a young person will die
– LGBTQI young people are 4x more likely to die as a result of suicide compared with the general population – online offers scope for connection & support, especially for those who feel or are socially isolated (notwithstanding the toxic/hateful comments)
– technology use should be curated by the user so that their online experience is positive

Parents can support their teenager by:
1) making it clear to their teenager that they will intervene if the teenager is unsafe, unhappy or unwell
– otherwise independence is given [however, the conversation is had so that parental intervention is not unexpected
2) asking questions (rather than assuming) before making an intervention – this then does not disempower the teenager
3) be very careful about disconnecting them from the digital world – this is the way teenagers navigate social relationships – including how they find each other, go to the movies etc., [even with respect to bullying]
– other suggestions:
– have difficult conversations in the car to avoid eye contact/confrontation
– flag / schedule ahead times for difficult conversations – introduce predictability & to have environments which are not “emotionally charged”
– texting might be worth considering – focus on behaviour, including a random text sayi g you love them because… [source: ReachOut]

Source: ABC RN AITM | broadcast date: 12 March 2017

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