Of all the developmental stages of life, being a teenager is possibly the most difficult. Apart from physical and emotional changes, teens face many struggles including cyber bullying, gaming addictions and substance abuse.
It can be an equally difficult time for the parent of a teenager, who wants nothing more than to help their child work through their problems. Apart from specifically identifying their issues and dealing with them directly, the most important thing you can do for your teen is to create and foster an environment of open and honest communication.
If your teen is not comfortable talking to you about their difficulties and struggles, you will never know the troubles they may be facing.
Here are 3 struggles your teenager may be dealing with:
Bullying is defined as an ongoing pattern of harassment and abuse. Cyber bullying happens when this pattern occurs online through e-mail, text or social media. Because 93% or teens between the ages of 12 and 17 go online, it’s no surprise that over 25% of them have suffered at the receiving end of cyber bullying.
Cyber bullying comes easy to those who bully, since the perpetrator does not see the pain of the victim, depersonalizing them and making it easier to make threats and dish out ridicule. Cyber bullying is as damaging as face-to-face bullying.
If you suspect your teen is being bullied online, encourage him or her to keep copies of all messages as proof and block the bullies from further contact. Take the information either to the school or the proper authorities.
Support your child and ensure them that they have done nothing wrong. They will not be punished and it is not their fault. If there is serious or lasting psychological damage because of the bullying, consider having your teen speak to a counselor or therapist.
Since the advent of online gaming, online socializing among teens has risen but at the cost of interference in emotional, physical and intellectual development. As a matter of addiction, “internet-use disorder” was added into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 2013 with online gaming included as a subcategory.
While online gaming is not a passive activity like watching television, it can certainly affect your teen’s social development as well as their academic success.
Take control of internet and online gaming use by developing an “Internet Contract” that details the length of time your teen is allowed to play and any chores or duties he or she must perform before playing. Some parents change the WIFI password on a daily basis, only providing it when online game play has been earned.
Teach your teen about internet safety and the importance of protecting passwords and avoiding contact with strangers. Learn about the games they are playing in order to take a more active role in their online activities.
While studies have shown that most teens that experiment with substances do not become addicted, it is certainly not an issue to be ignored. Teens often find themselves experimenting with drugs and alcohol because of curiosity, peer pressure, stress and the need to escape.
If ever you find your teenager partaking in illegal substances, approach the situation in a calm manner. Find out what they are using, where they are getting it and when they are using it. Most importantly, find out why they are partaking in drugs and/or alcohol.
Even though you may be feeling angry or disappointed, try not to fight with your teen over substance abuse. Explain the consequences of drug and alcohol use and implement discipline should they continue using.