Ashlea came to me the other day with some facts on depression, a subject close to my heart. She told me that amongst teenagers, depression is on the rise and by 2030, over 25% of teens will fall victim to this terribly sad mental illness. She then proceeded to tell me that over the past 50 years, the quality of life has improved due to advancements in technology, however people are not happier because of it. So, things are getting easier for us but we are still not any happier in life.
Linking with my recent post ‘Depression‘, I began thinking of ways to help our teenagers boost each others confidence by using technology in a positive way, generating kindness and mental health, especially amongst themselves. A constant referral for me when it comes to mental health for my children is Michael Carr-Gregg. He is a child and adolescent psychologist but his honesty is refreshing.
Children are our future, technology is our future but the future is not set in stone, we can take steps now to alter its outcome.
As this is a personal form of messaging, the words you write here can affect someone profoundly. Before you hit the send button, re-read what you have written and read it from the point of view of the person you are sending it to. Does it come across the way you intend? Is it a positive text? Could they misinterpret what you are saying? Simple tasks but these can help eliminate misunderstandings.
This one can be related to being in the playground at school, everyone can hear what you say (or write in this case) and once you have written it, you cannot take it back. A social media argument can quickly turn into a mob mentality, allowing the cyber bullies to go wild. Before posting anything on any social media, walk away, rethink your message to determine if it is worth sharing with the world. My mum taught us as children, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Would you want someone to post something about you?
Group Chat Messaging
When teens (and tweens now) get together in groups, they often congregate in apps such as kik and snapchat, fun ways to communicate as a group but things can get out of hand pretty quick. Remember you are not having a one on one conversation and any thing nasty said here about another person, can and probably will be past on. Your words can be powerful and hurt others. Sometimes its the fear of missing out that forces teens to continue in a conversation they feel is not suitable. Stick to your values and tell those who are being inappropriate that it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Another great way to communicate with friends is via pictures, using apps like Instagram. As part of your digital footprint (an online resume of your life that is accessible to everyone), never post a picture that you don’t want your mum to see. Hey, if I cover my eyes in horror can you image what the rest of the world is thinking. Also, out of respect for your friends, never post a picture of someone without their permission. What might seem funny to you, may not be so funny for the other people in the picture. If you don’t want it done to you, don’t do it to other people.
- Technology is all our children know and understand. They never experienced the days of having to wait until you got home from school, racing in the door, picking up the phone attached to the wall, to call your best friend you only saw 20 minutes ago.
- They never experienced the days when there was only 4 channels on television (oh and only 1 television in the house), so if your parents were watching the news, you had no choice but to amuse yourself with your imagination.
- They never experienced the days when you had to actually go to the library to find out information on a school topic, and there you met other kids doing exactly the same.
- They never experienced the days that the only way to group message people was to ride your bike around to find out the house all other bikes were at and that is where all your friends were hanging out.
- They never experienced the days when you walked in the front door of your house, it was a safe place if you had a fight with your friends. There was no way your friends could get into your mind for the rest of the day because there was no internet, no texting, no social media.
I don’t want my children suffering the negative effects of technology, I want them to embrace ways to make the world a kinder place through technology. Teenagers are vulnerable, all teenagers are vulnerable and what we might think is a simple ‘bad’ picture of them on Instagram or a funny ‘Tweet’ at their expense, they think their world is falling apart. By teaching children at a very young age to use the technology for good, not evil, maybe, just maybe we can alter the future figures on depression in our teens.
What advice are you going to give your children about technology?