A study was released just this year that shows some very depressing statistics. Of 5600 children between 12 and 17 surveyed, 34% had been cyberbullied, with 17% of those being within the last 30 days. That included name calling, threats and cyberstalking.
That isn’t the only concern to consider. Facebook has been found to exacerbate depression, anxiety and self esteem issues. For teens it can be especially harmful, with social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat giving an unrealistic view of how people’s lives actually are. Even positive images and habits online can become a problem if it goes too far.
For all the wonder it provides, technology can be toxic in the extreme. Teenagers have constant access to this toxicity, with their smartphones always at hand, bombarding them 24 hours a day. We have to help them to disconnect, otherwise we could lose them to the negative effects of the digital age.
Getting Them Away From The Screen
The number one thing you can do for your teen on this issue is to get them away from the computer, phone and other screens and into the real world. Family time is good for their development, emotional well being and overall health.
You obviously can’t provide this all the time. But you could set up a couple times a week where the whole family comes together and does something as a unit. Some ideas include:
- Playing board games.
- Going out to dinner.
- Going for a walk.
- Going for a bike ride.
- Going for a hike.
- Taking a weekend trip.
- Camping out in the backyard.
- Take a class together.
- Go to a movie.
- Have a home movie night.
- Go to the park.
- Check out local family events.
- Volunteer together.
You can also have some nightly family time. One of our favorite activities in my home is for everyone to cook dinner together at night. That requires a later meal time but it is a great way to come together and deconstruct after a tiring day.
All of this won’t keep them 100% safe, sad to say. But not only will it limit their exposure, it will improve your relationship and make them more likely to come to you if something is wrong. Being close opens up a line of trust and shows them that they can tell you anything that is bothering them.
Find out more about this and other topics at Parent Learning Center.