How to Raise a Teenager in Our Digital World

teenagers and digital worldIt is becoming increasingly challenging to monitor who your teenagers are interacting with and how they are behaving thanks to the vast reach of the internet and the skyrocketing popularity of mobile devices. Almost every teen has a smartphone or laptop and they all carry it around with them everywhere they go. This makes it basically impossible for parents to control their teen’s online behavior.

Sadly it is more than just a lack of imagination and inadequate exercise that parents need to be worried about if their teens become obsessed with their handheld gadgets. Online predators, cyber bullying, and risqué photos are quickly overtaking the internet and teenagers are blind to how it might affect them. 

Surreal Reality

Today’s teenagers are trapped in a digital world that offers a distorted view of reality. It is hard to teach a teenage the value of real human interaction when all they see is emoticons and black text on a computer screen. There are countless graphic and violent videos that they watch on sites like YouTube and Facebook and many teens will try to duplicate the content. Teenagers will create a shocking or embarrassing video of themselves and then encourage their friends to share it online.

This surreal digital environment is the reason why teenagers get persuaded by online predators, participate in cyber bullying, and post risqué photos. Teenagers don’t see the real world impact of their behavior. They don’t see the consequences of their actions.

Dangerous Delusions

Teenagers actually believe that the predator they are chatting with online is really another teenager. They think the kid that is being bullied knows it’s all a joke and is not emotionally affected by it. They think the photos they took in skimpy clothing and indecent poses will make the boys in their class love them instead of arousing inappropriate thoughts in strange men who stumble across them.

Parents need to point out the truth because the digital world can be deceiving and those false-realities are the only thing teenagers are really following. Be straight-forward and share stories that truly pinpoint their dangers behind their actions. The news is filled with stories of online predators or teens who commit suicide because of cyber bullying. Make them read those stories.

Be a Real Parent

Teenagers need to experience human interaction outside of the digital world which is why they should have limits on internet and smartphone use, especially during family meals and outings. They also shouldn’t be allowed to sleep with their devices. They may complain to you that every other teenager is allowed to use their phone whenever they want and you are being totally unfair, but they will appreciate it later on when they become parents.

You can’t watch what they are doing online all of the time, but you can limit their access or take the device away if they are caught posting something offensive. Take charge of your teenager’s digital obsession so they don’t get sucked into the surreal world of no consequences.

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