< 1 min read
It is so disturbing to see teens and young adults harming others, using firearms and falling victims to frustration and mental health issues.
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I honestly think that some teens are missing out on learning essential life skills like conversation, consideration of others, and learning to be patient with all types of circumstances and people.
I blame this on the media and constant bombardment of news and fake gaming through the overuse of technology. It is easy to snap off a noncommital, sometimes nasty comment when you are not face-to-face with the person you are bringing down. In the long run, these kids get used to unrealistic expectations and non-real-world scenarios, and it becomes their norm.
I think that parents really have to make a concerted effort to keep their kids in the real world by involving them in actual hands-on activities and limiting their screen use.
I know this is difficult, but I have seen it work well if you begin at an early age before your child is addicted to their technology and starts to fight you about it.
The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is vital for functions such as impulse control and emotional regulation only fully develops in early adulthood (at around age 25). This means that teenagers are more susceptible to being reactive rather than proactive - in other words, when they are angered or upset, they may not have the cognitive capacity to work through these feelings effectively.
In addition to this developmental aspect, our children and teens are constantly bombarded by media, not only from their local community, but from the entire world that can be distressing, violent, and confusing/conflicting. Even adults struggle to cope with the overwhelm they experience from living in such a connected world. Social media and the internet also provide access to information and materials that can easily influence young minds. Teens who feel ostracised or marginalised can quite easily find online communities of people who feel the same way, and these online space often lead to negative outcomes where a vulnerable young person has been negatively influenced by someone older who has a specific agenda or mindset.
Just like our parents warned us about "stranger danger", I believe that we need to have the same conversations with our kids and teens - but including the cyber world that they also inhabit. We also need to set aside whatever our own prejudices or biases are and support our kids to be accepting of diversity and inclusive. Kindness needs to become the most important thing we teach our children. If our kids and teens feel loved and accepted, there is a far lower risk of them being radicalised by a stranger online, or falling for the talk the hear everyday about the need to fear or reject people who are different to us, or who have different cultures, opinions, or appearances.