While attending a wonderful session by Er. Ameen Mudassir, in Nagpur, India on parenting recently, I was exposed to several factors. It posed too many questions before as a father or a parent as to how challenging it could be in this modern day to deal with a teenager, particularly daughters, in this tough world, which is more technology-driven than before.
The screen rules the world of our teenagers, posing the most significant challenge before the parents. These questions often bugged me, especially when I got engrossed in an especially designed program for people pre-teens and teens called Young Transformers.
This program brought me close to a few that made me understand the issues of our teenagers. Today, my post will move around the lives of such teenagers where parents are grossly wrong when dealing with them. So, here it's not the parents who are the victims but the parents who have gone beyond to make the mess; let's sort out?
Let me confess, I am not an ideal father, though, and perhaps after writing this piece, I would certainly like to be the one which I am not. The Young Transformers program has brought closer to many young and old parents who have remained sincere towards their children's development. Many remain friends with ample experience and exposure to these issues.
I have an experienced retired lady professor who keeps saying, "If you fail as a father, you are a big loser". I have someone who runs this program with their vast experience of being exposed to countless cultures and creeds visiting more than fifty countries worldwide while working in a top IT company. I have a wife who has a master's in psychology and has a fair understanding of relations and ways of handling. A few are very good in social work, social and emotional counselling.
These friends and known people have helped me understand where I fail as a father of a teenage daughter. When I explored this topic talking to people and interacting with my friend, I realized, I am not alone. The problem is the approach in handling them. The issue is the way we handle our children. The lack of understanding of the conundrum by parents is the big problem.
When our daughters enter their teens, they tend to transform from a joyful, cooperative little girls to argumentative, sullen and difficult to get along with teens. Suddenly you see the relationship, which used to be a source of enjoyment, is getting difficult. This is where we as parents need help understanding. Adding pressure on our little ones to perform at any cost. Paying hefty fees for their schools and colleges puts pressure on sensitive daughters who really care about their parents, but this population is meagre to count.
Screens Replacing The parents:
The advent and popularity of smartphones have done more damage than good. With the claim to give your loved one's instant gratification, it has everyone they ask for. It seers them; they feel safe with it, enjoy its success, and remain soothed and feel significant. Unfortunately, these five S's
As a father, how can I improve my relationship with an emotionally erratic adolescent girl? This past year has been challenging for me. I've watched my daughter transform a kind, joyful, cooperative little girl to a sullen, argumentative, hard-to-get-along-with teen. Our relationship used to be a source of enjoyment for me. Now it's just tricky. How can I turn this situation around?
Teenagers & Smartphones: Damages Done Already
Numerous studies have been conducted on the ill effects of smartphone use on teenagers. Here are a few examples:
Sleep: A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that smartphone use in the evening was associated with shorter sleep duration, poorer sleep quality, and increased depressive symptoms in teenagers.
Mental health: A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that excessive smartphone use was associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and stress in teenagers.
Social isolation: A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that heavy social media use was associated with decreased face-to-face interactions and increased feelings of social isolation in teenagers.
Cyberbullying: A study published in the Journal of UNICEF found that teenagers who used social media too often were more likely to experience cyberbullying than those who used it less regularly.
Addiction: A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found that smartphone addiction was associated with increased anxiety, depression, and stress in teenagers.
Physical health: A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus found that excessive smartphone use was associated with an increased risk of myopia (nearsightedness) in teenagers.
I am appalled by these studies, which suggest that excessive smartphone use can negatively affect teenagers' mental and physical health. It's important for parents like me and teenagers to be aware of these potential risks and to take steps to promote healthy smartphone use.
The Road Ahead
How can I, as a father, replace the phones of my teenage daughter with me? If you're concerned about your teenage daughter's smartphone use like me and you want to replace her phone with your own, here are a few steps we can give a shot:
Explain your concerns: I will sit down with my daughter and explain my concerns about her smartphone use. Let her know I am not trying to punish her, but rather I want to help her develop healthy phone habits.
Set clear expectations: I need to be clear about what I expect from her when it comes to smartphone use. I will educate her to know how much time per day she can spend on her phone and what activities are off-limits (e.g. using her phone during dinner or before bedtime).
Lead by example: Most importantly, If I want my daughter to develop healthy phone habits, I must model them myself. I have to limit my own phone use and engage in activities that don't involve screens.
Provide alternative activities: I will have to encourage my daughter to engage in activities that don't involve her phone, such as sports, reading, or spending time with friends.
Monitor her phone use: If my daughter still needs a phone for safety or communication purposes, I will consider monitoring her phone use to ensure she's following the rules you've set.
It's important to have open communication with our daughters throughout the upbringing process. Listen to her concerns and be willing to make adjustments as needed. By working together, you can help your daughter develop healthy phone habits and avoid the negative effects of excessive smartphone use.
Parenting a teenager in the digital age can be challenging, but it's important to remember that open communication and setting clear expectations can help establish healthy habits around technology. By modeling positive behavior, providing alternative activities, and monitoring your teenager's phone use, you can help them navigate the complexities of the digital world while also promoting their mental and physical well-being. Remember to be patient and understanding, as navigating the challenges of parenting a teenager is never easy, but with time, effort, and a willingness to adapt, you can help your teenager thrive in the digital age.