Many people have a notion that technology may be responsible for the increase in the number of adolescents getting affected by teen anxiety. For them, the findings of the research done by Danah Boyd may provide the answer.
Danah Boyd’s research
Danah Boyd has done extensive research not only on the effects of the digital world on teens but on social media, the tension that exists between public lives and private lives and also on the Big Data. She has also written a book entitled “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.” She has interviewed over 150 teens for the sake of writing this book.
What are the online activities of teens?
According to Danah Boyd, parents should not have false ideas about the online activities of their teens. She says that the online activities of teens are that they hang out, flirt, socialize, gossip and joke and mess around with one another. She says that many of these activities are quite reasonable and befitting their age. She adds that a few of these activities are glorious, though she agrees that a few other activities are problematic.
Online activities act as a release-valve
She says that due to fear and anxiety that are caused due to the terrible things that are happening to children, adolescents are not able to access places because parents and other elders have transferred their worries on the online lives of children.
The main reason adolescents hang out online is that they treat it as some kind of a release-valve. She says that it is not the technology that attracts them but they are attracted because it is a place where they can find their friends.
Danah Boyd continues to add that technology is not the origin of the genuine high-risk lives of teens. Many parents commit the mistake of abusing their teens at home. A number of adolescents live in poverty and they have mental-health problems like teen anxiety, etc. Their struggles are visible online.
What mistakes do parents commit?
Instead of helping them in the right manner, parents and other people are trying to get rid of the Internet itself and this is not the right approach. The fact is that adolescents are facing unprecedented levels of surveillance. This surveillance emanates not only from powerful institutions but such surveillance activities are carried out by parents also. Teens feel that even their parents do not have a right to intrude like this.
How parents should handle their teens?
There are a number of parents who are not able to understand the networked lives and activities of their adolescent children. Danah Boyd advises parents to stay calm and develop the habit of listening to their children. They should know what their children are aiming to achieve, how they are planning to accomplish their aims and how, as parents, they can give sufficient space to them for them to reach these goals.
Parents should also understand that their adolescent children are stressed out and are susceptible to be affected by teen anxiety. These issues are not due to the effects of technology. Teens experience stress and anxiety only because of the pressure parents exert on them.
In short, parents who are concerned about their teens should listen to them attentively and should refrain from exerting undue pressure on them, leading to teen anxiety.