04 Feb Technology’s Impact on Teens
Teens and technology — they seem to go hand in hand. There doesn’t seem to be a teenager today that’s not buried in some smart device. In 2019, American teens between ages 13 and 18 looked at screens for an average of 7 hours a day.
Understanding the relationship between technology and your teenager can seem a bit overwhelming. It can often feel like your teen’s entire life revolves around the internet, social media, apps, games, television, and more. Especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, teenagers are turning to tech more than ever before, and the effects of technology are becoming clear.
The Risks of Technology
As with anything, technology does come with some potential drawbacks. Being aware of these risks and helping your teen learn about them is the first step in reducing them.
Bullying is not a new concept, but with the rise in technology, cyberbullying has become prevalent. Mainly because it is easy for the bully to hide behind their screen, and feel more protected than they would in person. Social media can sometimes open the doors to cyberbullying amongst teens.
Although this may seem a bit contradictory as technology does allow for more connection, it can also lead teens to become more isolated. Spending more time in front of their screens and less time with their family or friends in person isn’t good for their development or mental health, and the facade many put up online, showing only their “best lives” can make them feel alone as they compare themselves to false versions of others they see on social media.
The internet is full of information, and unfortunately not all of this is positive information. Your teen may find themselves stumbling across inappropriate or violent material which they shouldn’t be exposed to. Luckily, there are protections like search filters you can put in place to mitigate this risk.
Perhaps one of the biggest risks that comes with teenagers spending time online is predators. Easily masked behind a screen or fake profile, and out of sight from adults who would protect them, predators often take this opportunity to find victims. It is extremely important to teach your teen these risks, and make sure they know how to spot predators online.
The Benefits of Technology
The internet and technology as a whole have advanced us as a society in many ways. Especially during current times, we’ve seen how it has kept people connected, and kept many businesses afloat. Teens exploring technology actually has some major benefits for their development and success in the future.
Access to Information
One major benefit of teens having access to technology is education. Being able to search for information they are interested in, educate themselves about a topic for school, or having readily available resources at their fingertips help teens to feel empowered in their knowledge and themselves.
As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, technology proves very useful for staying in touch with those you can’t see in person. Whether it’s attending school from home, connecting with friends on social media, or chatting with family who live far away, the internet bridges the gap and helps teens feel less isolated during this tough time.
Forming an Identity
Technology is an expansive industry, and includes every single hobby or interest you could think of. This opens so many doors for teens trying to find their passions, and connect with others who share them. They could be interested in a certain video game, and talk with others playing the same game. Or, they could join groups online where they can chat with other like-minded people and express themselves.
Being a good “digital citizen” means abiding by basic rules such as being kind to others, and practicing internet safety. If teens are using technology for the right reasons, and understand what it means to be a good digital citizen, you can feel confident in their internet use, and know that it is helping them develop their identity while exposing them to a world of knowledge and connections.
The teen years are crucial for long-term development, and although it comes with some risks, technology has helped to propel teens to a new level of independence, created a rise in self-education, and allows each teen to express themselves to the fullest online, and find communities of like-minded people.
The more teens learn about acting responsibly, making smart decisions, and interacting with others respectfully, the more benefits they will gain from technology. Tilly’s Life Center offers virtual workshops to teach teens these skills and more, all while helping them cope with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and many other things they face on a daily basis. To find out more, visit https://tillyslifecenter.org/virtual-workshops/