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Posts Tagged ‘teenagers’

During this time of unknowns, are we forgetting to check in on our teenagers? Do we sometimes think, “they have their video games and phones” and don’t bother to check in on them anymore than that? I have many friends with teenagers who share how self-sufficient their teenagers have become in the midst of COVID-19. Sure they sleep in too long, stay up too late, and may not be eating as healthy of a diet, but overall they appear to be happy and healthy. However, is that truly the case for our teenagers?

A recent study conducted by the National 4-H Council shared startling statistics. Of the 1,500 youth who were polled, 7 out of 10 identified they are struggling with their mental health. One key indicator found that teens report more pressure to hide their feelings than to do drugs. The Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the National 4-H Council was published by multiple outlets including HuffPost. For more detailed statistics, the 4-H National page provides more.

While concerns of suicide are on the rise in our youth already, this global pandemic has increased the importance for us to check in with our youth to see how they are feeling. A statistic from the Youth Mental Health First Aid course shares that if a youth feels they have one trusted adult they can seek out to share feeling with, it decreases their chance of suicide drastically.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has a campaign called On Our Sleeves that offers a place to begin a conversation. Resources are available to help parents, educators, and healthcare providers talk with youth about mental health. Honest and open conversations allow young people to share openly and honestly with you, a trusted adult.  This helps them so they don’t feel like the 65% of youth that are “dealing with it on their own”.

on our sleeves

Our youth are resilient, but they need your help to navigate these difficult years. Whether it is from a parent, guardian, or family friend, our youth need to have advocates when it comes to their own mental health. What are you waiting for? Invite that teen you know out to lunch (virtually or in-person!) and let them know how much you love and care for them.

References:

National 4-H Council. (2020). https://4-h.Org/about/Research/#!Healthy-Living. https://4-h.org/about/research/#!healthy-living

Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (2020). Nationwide Children’s Hospital. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves

Mental Health First Aid. (2020). Mental Health First Aid. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

Written by: Bridget Britton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Carroll County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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As I recently reminisced with a group of friends, interwoven in our conversation were comments about our use of technology when we were teens. We wrote letters to one another instead of sending emails. We made very short long-distance calls rather than texting. We even took photos on a camera with film that had to be developed!

In the last week I have become the parent of a teenager. This is a time of transition in my parenting style. We want to raise young people who can not only function on their own but make good and wise choices and be of benefit to others and society. Therefore, we should be well-informed parents on the topics below when it comes to teens and screens.

Cyberbullying: Bullying is a tale as old as time, but technology allows for increased opportunities to harass others without limitations of time and space. This often leads to silent and continued suffering for teens. One of the best resources that I have found on this topic is from the Cyberbullying Research Center. This is co-directed by two professors of criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin and Florida Atlantic University.

They define cyberbullying as: “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. This includes incidents where adolescents use technology to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle their peers.” According to their research over the past 13 years, 28 percent of students have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetimes.

Online predators: A 2014 Oklahoma State University study explored teacher and counselors’ perceptions of preventing sexual assault from online predators. They identified five themes that contribute to this problem including lack of parental supervision, social networking websites and chat rooms, teenagers need for relationships, instant gratification among teenagers, and lack of education for parents. A Cornell University study from 2013 showed that many parents were underestimating risky online behavior of their children.

One idea I find particularly interesting is creating a family online safety contract with expectations for both child/teen and parents. There are lots of examples to set the stage for some great discussions about boundaries. Having “parental controls” turned on is not the same as having conversations with your tweens and teens about expectations while online.

The lingo: I laughed at a t-shirt I saw the other day that said, “No one prepares you for the transition from Ma-ma to Mommy to Mom to Bruh.” Teens have always had their own language. One way to decode or to better understand abbreviations and acronyms is through the Common Sense Education Digital Glossary or Cyberbullying Research Center Glossary. They can help you understand vamping and doxing, the difference between TikTok and Yik Yak, YOLO, FOMO, PAP and POS.

All in all, the worst thing we can do as parents is hand youth a tablet, phone or laptop and just hope they will be safe. We wouldn’t say, “Here’s a car. Drive it whenever you want, however you want, anywhere you want.” The most important thing we can do is to talk with our tweens and teens about the good and the bad and set clear expectations. Adolescents don’t think about the future or consequences the same way that adults do. That is why they have us in their lives. It is both a great privilege and challenge to be in this interdependent coaching phase of parenting a teen.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Summary of Our Cyberbullying Research (2007-2019) https://cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research

Baghurst, T., Alexander, R., Tapps, T. (2014) Academic Exchange Quarterly Winter Volume 18, Issue 1 Ways To Protect Students From Online Predators. http://rapidintellect.com/AEQweb/t5414v4.pdf

Segelken, H.R. Cornell Chronicle (October 202, 2013) Parents could be clueless about risky online behavior. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/10/parents-could-be-clueless-about-risky-online-behavior

PureSight Online Child Safety (2020) Family online safety contract. https://puresight.com/Useful-tools/family-online-safety-contract.html

Common Sense Education (2020) Digital Glossary. https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-glossary

Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J.W. Cyberbullying Research Center (2020) Glossary: Social Media, Cyberbullying, & Online Safety Terms To Know https://cyberbullying.org/social-media-cyberbullying-online-safety-glossary.pdf

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