5. Social Media
Our teens can probably not imagine a time when people had to look up information at local libraries or in reference guides, or when people were limited to having discussions face-to-face or over telephones attached to phone jacks. The technology boom has certainly made life easier in some respects, but it has brought about an onslaught of new concerns in terms of cyberbullying, the mass invasion of privacy, and the unhealthy tendency of our teens to compare themselves to what they see and read online.
In fact, research shows that teenagers who spend more time on smartphones and social media and less time interacting with others face-to-face are more likely to be depressed and experience heightened tension. Moreover, social media posts that graphically or inaccurately highlight tragic events like school shootings or natural disasters may frighten teens into constantly worrying about their safety.
Stress-management tip: Encourage your teen to unplug more often and experience the health benefits of spending time outdoors, exercising, cultivating authentic relationships face-to-face, and getting adequate rest. Also, educate your teen as to the possibility of online information being false or exaggerated.
6. Parental Expectations
Parental expectations are often unrealistic. Many parents expect their teens to get good grades, play sports, develop a useful skill or ability, and get a job to help contribute financially or learn money management. This overscheduling of our teens’ time—even when well-intentioned—can result in teen burnout and feelings of helplessness over their own schedule.
Parents are wise to keep in mind that a well-rounded, socially-adept child is much more likely to lead a healthy, happy life than a stressed-out overachiever who aces tests and speaks three languages at the expense of acquiring social skills.
Stress-management tip: Assess your own expectations of your teen and carefully distinguish between healthy encouragement and unrealistic pressuring. Take note that if you routinely hold your teen up to unattainable standards, you may be inflicting self-worth issues in your child that can plague him for a life-time.
Dolores Smyth writes on faith and parenting. Her work has appeared in numerous print and online publications. You can read more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.
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