Each generation faces different problems than those faced by their parents and today’s teens are no exception. Today’s parents, for instance, did not have to face bullying on a global scale like children do today and the pressure to do well in school is much higher than it was even a decade ago.
Bullying in Today’s World
Bullying has always been part of the teenage culture but it has never been on the scale it is today. If you are a parent, you may remember the kid who constantly picked on other kids in the class or you may recall the “outcast” that everyone seemed to pick on. The difference today is that bullying no longer remains in the classroom or at school.
With the explosion of social media, teen bullying has reached a new level. Incriminating photos or negative online comments can be shared on a worldwide level today, something that did not exist even ten years ago. Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to social media and their children to be sure they do not become victims of bullying.
If you notice your child’s behavior changing, that they no longer want to go to school or that they avoid people they used to call friends, talk to your child to see if bullying might be an issue. Keep an eye on their social media accounts and document any posts that you feel are inappropriate or hurtful. In most states, cyberbullying is a crime and you can press charges against another person who bullies your child.
It is impossible in today’s world to ban your child from the Internet. Students need to use the web for school work on a regular basis. However, it can also lead some children to become addicted to the cyber world. Online gaming, social media and other sites can interfere with a child’s real-world relationships.
Limit the amount of time your teen spends in online formats, whether it is gaming or social media. Make a “no cell phone” policy at the dinner table and require that the adults in the household also follow that rule. If necessary, block phones and computers during certain times of the day to keep children from spending too much time online.
Although teenagers have struggled with body image for many generations, the pressure to “look good” has increased over the years. Teens are bombarded with photos of thin, attractive models and actresses which can lead them to feel as if they must look the same way. They may be unaware that most professional photos of famous people are airbrushed and doctored to make the model look as good as possible.
Unfortunately, this can lead teens to develop eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. It is important to realize that boys can also suffer from these disorders, especially if they are athletes and are required to maintain a certain weight for their sport.
Parents should constantly remind teens that the person in the photos they see online or in magazines may not look at all like that should they see them in person. If it seems a teen is focusing too much on their weight, consider counseling from Reasons Eating Disorder Center or a similar institution near you to help them adjust their body image and create healthy eating habits.
Today’s teen faces a significant amount of pressure when it comes to education as well. Colleges have grown more and more expensive over the years so many teens rely on scholarships in order to attend institutions of higher education. Most scholarships require high grade point averages as well as high ACT or SAT scores. This puts added pressure on students to perform well in their high school classes and on standardized tests.
The pressure can sometimes become overwhelming, leading to depression. Be sure that your teen has a significant amount of leisure time in addition to study time. Require breaks during times of high-academic stress, even if it is just 15 minutes at a time. Let your teen know that their health is more important than their GPA. Build some educational recreation into your family time, such as visits to local museums or trips to sites that promote learning so that teens gain hands-on knowledge as well.
Although every generation faces different struggles, today’s teen faces some that were non-existent for their parents. The best way for parents to help their teen deal with these struggles is to keep the lines of communication open and to be aware that these struggles exist.