I talked with high school freshman and sophomores recently about social media, mental health, and relationships. Here are 10 things teens expressed about relationships and technology:
- Technology makes teens lazy in relationships. These are their words. Kids don’t get together as much in person and are less apt to pursue or maintain a relationship.
- Technology disconnects you from others. Teens are living in a world of disconnected relationships when they need connection.
- Technology makes you too connected. In dating relationships, overprotection, manipulation, and pressure to check in and answer to your dating partner is an unhealthy part of relationships.
- Miscommunication is a real problem for teens. Friendships and dating relationships are ruined because of miscommunication of feelings, intent, and everything that’s missed in a text or social media post rather than communicating in person.
- There is peer pressure to send sexual photos in relationships if you are talking with someone or going out with them.
- “Most relationships involve sex which means that it involves sexting.”
- Sexual photos or videos shared with someone ends up being shared with others.
- Porn gives you unrealistic expectations.
- Porn can make you mistrust someone.
- Porn impacts future relationships.
How can parents help kids?
- Talk with your kids about the impact of social media, technology, porn, sexting, and relationships. Don’t preach to them, talk with them.
- Put your phone down and build a relationship with your teen. They need you.
- Put boundaries around your teen’s social media and technology use. Have them put their phones in a public location at bedtime so they can rest and sleep and not be tempted to say something or look at something stupid they may later regret.
- Model face to face communication with your teen. Save important conversations for face to face interaction rather than through texting.
- Talk to them about porn and sexting. It’s awkward, but talking to them about it is important.
Some good news!
Teens learned some things from our conversations about social media and technology. These are things they reported to learn:
- Social media is both good and bad.
- The world is not all bad.
- Technology allows you to communicate with people.
- Technology allows you to meet new friends.
- You can turn off your phone.
- You should spend more time with friends and family.
- Social media does not define you.
- Every teen had at least one person they identified they could talk to if they struggled with things.
- Real love respects boundaries.
- Life is more than high school.
What hope these kids gave me because it reinforced the fact that kids are our future. But they are also fragile and need adults in their life who care about them and what goes on in their world!
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