Let’s compare communications of teenagers and adolescents in 2020 to those of older generations. When my Dad was in the army, he could only communicate with his Mom by writing a letter, which took nearly a week to deliver. In 2020, if your daughter needs to contact you, she just sends you a WhatsApp message which you will receive instantly. My Dad’s generation never had to deal with the rapid increase in technology and its subsequent consequences. This fast-paced world that we live in today has resulted in your daughter, and even you, spending more time on your phones than interacting with those around you. Before the rise in technology, teenagers could not ‘escape’ spending time with parents as there were no smartphones, Netflix or social media.
With this rapid advancement in technology, there is a global increase in teenage depression, anxiety and suicide. SADAG (2020) reported that “Disturbingly, more and more teens are using the Internet and SMS as their primary means of communication. Time spent ‘socialising’ online is time spent away from socialising in the real world” (p. 4). In addition, Therese Borchard, author of “Beyond Blue” reported that “Most experts would agree with me that there is more stress today than in previous generations. I think modern lifestyles – lack of community and family support; less exercise; no casual and unstructured technology-free play; less sunshine and more computers – factors into the equation.”
Although technology has had positive implications, it has also had many negative consequences, especially for teenagers and adolescents. It has even resulted in an increase in parent-child conflict. An example of this is when you go out for supper as a family, and your daughter spends more time on her phone than interacting with the family – this results in conflict. Another negative consequence is the disruption of family time. When last did you sit with your family at dinner (device free) and discuss how your day was or even play a boardgame or watch a movie together? The world we live in today is extremely fast paced and we often do not have time to stop, breathe and just spend time together (with no distractions!)
As a result, I challenge you to my #FamilyFirstFriday challenge. This Friday, make a family ‘date’, whether it be making a pizza together, playing a boardgame or just doing an activity together where no cellphones are allowed. At first your daughter might roll her eyes or sigh at the idea, but she needs to be reminded that family time is crucial and her cellphone will still be there once the family ‘date’ is over. I would love to see you participate in this challenge, so please send me a selfie of your family completing the #FamilyFirstFriday challenge to firstname.lastname@example.org . Who knows, you might be lucky enough to make it on to our social media pages!
I will leave you with two quotes on family:
“Family time is not a matter of convenience. It is a matter of priority.” Unknown
“Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.” Jim Rohn