Before you go screaming at your teenager to “Get off your phone” or “What is wrong with you today?” or “Just ignore them”, take a few minutes to think back to when you were a teenager. I know you understand that things have changed over the years but today we are here to understand just how much has changed and exactly what a teenager goes through every day.
Picture a glass bowl –
Add a dash of peering eyes
Combine this with a never ending clock
And finally swirl a tiny bit of chatter
And this is what your teenager experiences every single day of their life.
So let’s head back to when you were a teenager so we can actually compare a few likely scenarios.
Before Social Media –
You had a fight with your best friend at school over typical teenage rubbish, so you storm off, jump on your bike and ride home. Mum is always home to greet you after school and offers you some freshly baked muffins. She can see you are in a mood so asks what is wrong but never pushes you to talk about it. You don’t feel like talking about it and tell her you just want to chill in your room and listen to music. An hour later when Mum calls you for dinner, you realise that maybe you were a little hasty in fighting with your best friend and ask mum to use the phone. After a quick call, everything is sorted out and back to normal, so you sit down at the table and enjoy a nice family dinner. The next day at school, you and your best friend see each other and it is like nothing ever happened.
After Social Media –
Your teenager has a fight with their bestie but a fight between two people is never just between two people. Lots of words were said and someone (who is meant to be your teens friend) films the entire argument. Your teen storms off and catches the bus home. On the bus your teen receives 15 text messages, 10 snapchats and 11 tweets from people who are all meant to be their friend either asking if they are OK or telling your teen they are a loser for starting the fight in the first place. By the time your teen has opened the front door to your house, they have communicated with over 30 people about a private fight between your teen and their bestie. The fight was a stupid moment of anger and now it has escalated into world war 3. With no one at home, your teen turns to Facebook and Instagram to tune out and there they see pictures of themselves arguing and throwing a typical teenage tantrum. Now the fight has moved from 30 people to over 300 people getting involved. The tweets, snapchats and texts keep coming until well after midnight when your teen finally falls asleep numb from exhaustion. By the time you got home from work, cooked dinner, drove to sports and answered a few emails, the day was over and dinner was eaten on the run. In the morning your teen’s inbox was full of comments and as much as they don’t want to read all the messages, they cannot help themselves. Off to school they head, knowing that they will be talked about all day and the fight between themselves and their bestie has only just started, even though they really want the entire thing to just disappear.
- Teenagers do not get a chance to tune out of life, even for a moment.
- Teenagers are constantly being pulled in all directions.
- Teenagers cannot do anything without someone watching them.
- Teenagers live in a glass bowl of social media.
It is our job to teach them that there MUST be times when they do tune out of life. It is our job to protect them from being pulled in every direction, especially from those who do not care for them. It is our job to help them understand that everyone needs some space and taking time out from social media is actually a good thing. And it is our job to cover that glass bowl sometimes to remind them just how special they really are.
Teenagers want the same thing we did when we were teenagers – to be loved and to feel secure.
Do you remember growing up and having all eyes watching your every move?