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Common Social Issues That Teens Face Today
Have you ever looked at your teenager and wondered if by chance an unknown hostile being had suddenly taken over their body? I mean how could such a loving, sweet smelling and huggable baby suddenly turn into such an angry and hostile child so quickly? Don’t despair. You are not alone.
Many parents and guardians agree that the teenage stage could possibly be the most confusing and conflicting period of children’s lives. The sheer volume of what teenagers have to deal with these days is certainly overwhelming. Unfortunately, these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. They may even get worse. So what should we do to help them get through this trying stage? In this article, we’ll go into the world of a typical 21st century teenager, look at just a few of the things they face, and see what can be done to make life easier for all of us.
Social issues of the modern teenager
• Peer pressure
It is known that man is a social animal. So do teenagers. They want to be like their friends or famous celebrities, we all went through this stage. Peer pressure could really bring out positive traits in a child. Depending on who they “hang out” with, they could really be interested in good activities like sports or crafts.
However, when the influence causes the teen to do, say, or act in a way that he or she would not normally do, then there may be a problem. It could manifest itself in a drastic change in hair or clothing, musical preferences and so on. A major risk of peer pressure is the deep desire to be accepted or to impress. When the goal is not achieved and the adolescent is rejected even after trying so hard, it leads to great inner conflict that could last a lifetime. This leads us to the next topic.
• Self-esteem / confidence
Your child may feel that the only way to be accepted into the ‘group’ is to act and look like the ‘group’. If accepted into the group, teenagers would naturally do whatever they could to stay in. Sometimes even doing things they were specifically raised not to indulge in. On the other hand, failing to be accepted would make them feel inadequate and unwanted. Feelings of self-doubt and anger would follow. Breaking out suddenly, wanting to be alone are some signs of rejection and low self-esteem.
Most adults, myself included, have experienced bullying at one point or another while growing up. It’s almost like a rite of passage for school children. Unfortunately, the advancement of technology has made it transform into something so awful that even the authorities cannot fully protect teenagers from it. The ease with which even pre-teens can access the Internet is frightening. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace have made it possible for people with major problems in their personal lives to prey on young people. Many of these online predators are sometimes decades older than the children they prey on. The internet gives them the perfect opportunity to hide their true identity and they often get away with these disgusting attacks on teenagers.
• Violence in media and games
I shudder to see the kind of games and animations available these days. Blood flows freely everywhere and body parts are scattered on the floors. There seems to be no escape as even the news shows violence on TV Cartoons that were innocent and pure have become the main avenue for depicting acts of violence and beheading. Popular games have almost no scene without an act of violence on the part of the other. Children are encouraged to take an active part and win by using any means available to ‘kill’ their opponents. You will soon find that even when playing with each other, teenage siblings or friends often use violent phrases learned from these media to communicate. They even do these acts on household pets to the shock of their parents. The message he gets across seems to be “kill, maim and maim” and fast!
• Sexual pressure
Sex is everywhere and trust me, teenagers are looking for it whether they want to or not. The pressure to get rid of their virginity is incredible. Many parents still feel uncomfortable having “The Talk” with their teenage children. Kids have no choice but to turn to their friends for answers. Too many then end up doing what they really aren’t ready for. It is no wonder that teenage pregnancies and STDs are steadily increasing every year.
• Substance and alcohol abuse
Let’s face it. Teenagers want to look cool. A cigarette, a shot of alcohol and a dose of pills are no longer so difficult to obtain, and the age of users is getting younger and younger. Addiction quickly follows. It’s now rare to meet a teenager who hasn’t tried at least one of these substances yet. This is a particularly nasty and life-threatening risk if not checked quickly.
So what do we do and how can we protect these precious lives in our care?
• Don’t blame yourself if your teen gets into bad habits.
• Yelling, shouting, crying and other emotional outbursts would not help and will likely push the child further away from you. Learn to speak to them in a calm and gentle tone. It’s hard when you’re screaming inside but it works.
• Take the time to understand how your child is feeling, make him realize that you are there for him and that you will always be there NO MATTER WHAT.
• From a very young age, encourage your children to express their opinions and make small decisions in the home. This helps boost their self-esteem.
• Talk to them about sex once they start asking questions about male and female body parts. Inform them in detail about the consequences of sex as they grow older.
• Install parental controls on internet and television access.
• Encourage them to bring their friends home. They interact with their friends without criticizing them.
• Treat them with respect.
This article is by no means exhaustive. There are still many things out there for teenagers to contend with, but with a little care and understanding on our part, we can greatly reduce the impact on them.
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