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It Wasn't Like This Back in My Day: The Wild World of Teenagers and Social Media.


Parenting teenagers today is like venturing into a whole new galaxy. The rise of social media and digital tech has turned the parenting game upside down. But you know what? I'm secretly relieved there weren't mobile phones in my day. Why? Because my misspent youth is safely tucked away in the pre-digital era—nothing went viral, and no embarrassing photos haunt me online (other than the evidence of my 90's perm, that seems to resurface every birthday!).

But, let's consider the the thrilling yet dangerous world of how social media has transformed the teenage experience. It's not all fun and games, and we must try and help our kids navigate this digital age.

The Social Media Revolution Back in the day, our social lives revolved around face-to-face interactions and maybe the occasional call on a landline. Fast forward to today, and social media has taken centre stage. Platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter are the new digital hangout spots for our teenagers.

  1. The Pressure to Be Picture-Perfect

Back in my day, we didn't have to worry about looking like models 24/7. But now, thanks to social media, our teens often feel like they have to put their best face forward at all times. The hunt for the perfect selfie and the pressure to maintain an Instagram-worthy image can take a toll on their self-esteem. I've had my own share of laughs and talks with my boys about the difference between Instagram filters and reality.

  1. The Mental Health Maze

Back in the day, we may have had teenage angst, but today's youth face a different kind of battle. The pursuit of online validation, cyberbullying, and the constant comparisons with others have led to a surge in mental health issues among teenagers. As parents we can feel helpless and it's not easy to watch them struggle.

  1. The Perils of Online Safety

Online safety used to mean not sharing personal info with strangers. Nowadays, our teens are exposed to online predators, cyberbullying, and the risk of their private information going public without consent. It's a constant juggling act for me—allowing my boys some online freedom while ensuring their safety.

  1. The Infinite Scroll

Back in the day, we had a limited dose of information. Today, the internet offers endless knowledge, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Teens are often glued to their screens, endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. This can lead to addiction, sleep issues, and a missed chance for real-life experiences. Believe me when I say I have had my own fair share of arguments trying to pry my boys away from their devices - evil Mum!

  1. Peer Pressure Turbocharged

Peer pressure was a thing in our day, but now it's amplified by social media. The desire to fit in and be part of the crowd has reached new levels. Our kids are exposed to trends, challenges, and online communities that can sometimes lead them down risky paths. We need to give our children autonomy, at the same time explaining the importance of making smart choices and not following the herd online.

Conclusion While it's tempting to say, "It wasn't like that in my day," we must recognise the challenges our teenagers face in this digital age. Social media has reshaped our world, and with it brings positives but we need to be mindful of the potential consequences for our children's mental health and well-being.

As parents, it's crucial that we remain understanding and open to their struggles. We need to create a space where they feel safe discussing their online experiences and the pressures they face. By actively engaging with them, sharing our own stories (or lack thereof, thanks to pre-social media days), setting boundaries, and providing guidance, we can help them navigate this ever-evolving digital terrain. Let's equip them with the knowledge and skills they'll need for the future while ensuring they have a bit of fun along the way. After all, we've been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale!

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You are right Rachael, it wasn’t like this back in your day! Teenagers face more intense challenges and pressures than ever before, so it’s important for older generations to accept that Social Media is a huge part of 21st Century life. I agree that understanding, openness and a well developed sense of humour are essential to help young people navigate this tricky stage!

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