Common social problems teens face today
Have you ever looked at your teenager and wondered if by some chance an unknown hostile being had suddenly taken over his body? I mean, how could such a loving, sweet and cuddly baby suddenly turn into such an angry and unfriendly child so quickly? Do not despair. You are not alone.
Many parents and guardians agree that adolescence is possibly the most confusing and conflictive time in children’s lives. The sheer enormity of what teens have to deal with these days is certainly overwhelming. Unfortunately, these problems are not going away anytime soon. They can even get worse. So what are we going to do to help them get through this testing stage? In this article, we will delve 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 problems of the modern adolescent
• Group pressure
It is a known fact that man is a social animal. So are teenagers. They want to be like their friends or famous celebrities, we all go through that stage in one or the other. Peer pressure could actually bring out positive traits in a child. Depending on who they are “hanging out” with, they might actually be interested in good activities like sports or crafts.
However, when the influence causes the adolescent to do, say, or act in a way that they would not normally do, then there could be a problem. It could manifest itself in a drastic change in hairstyle or dress, musical tastes, etc. A great danger from 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 creates a major internal conflict that could last a lifetime. This brings us to the next topic.
• Self-esteem / confidence
Your child may feel that the only way to be accepted into the “group” is by acting and looking like the “group.” If accepted into the group, adolescents would naturally do their best to stay in it. Sometimes even doing things that they have been specifically bred to not allow themselves to do. On the other hand, not being accepted would make them feel inadequate and unwanted. Feelings of insecurity and anger would follow. Attacking suddenly, wanting to stay alone are some signs of rejection and low self-confidence.
• Cyber bullying
Most adults, myself included, have experienced bullying incidents at one time or another while growing up. It’s almost like a rite of passage for school-age children. Sadly, advances in technology have made it so sinister that even the authorities can’t fully protect teens. The ease with which even tweens can access the internet is terrifying. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace have made it possible for people with significant problems in their personal lives to take advantage of young people. Many of these online predators are sometimes decades older than the children they attack. The Internet provides them with the perfect opportunity to mask their real identities and they often get away with these disgusting attacks on teenagers.
• Violence in the media and games
I cringe when I see the kinds of games and cartoons available these days. Blood flows freely everywhere and parts of the body are scattered on the ground. There seems to be no escape, as even the news shows violence on television. Cartoons that used to be innocent and clean have become an important avenue for depicting acts of violence and beheading. Popular games hardly have a scene without an act of violence from the other. Children are encouraged to actively participate and win using any available means to “kill” their opponents. You will soon discover that even while playing with each other, teenage siblings or friends often use violent phrases that they learn from these media to communicate. They even practice these acts with domestic pets to the surprise of their parents. The message being conveyed seems to be “kill, wound and maim” and fast too!
• Sexual pressure
Sex is everywhere you look and believe me, teens seek it out whether they want to or not. The pressure to get rid of your virginity is incredible. Many parents still feel uncomfortable having “the talk” with their teens. Children have no choice but to turn to their friends for answers. Too many end up participating in what they are not really prepared for. It’s no wonder that teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise every year.
• Substance and alcohol abuse
Let’s be honest. Teenagers want to look good. A cigarette, a shot of alcohol, and a dose of pills are no longer so hard to come by and the age of consumers is getting younger. The addiction continues quickly. Now it is rare to find a teenager who has not yet tried at least one of these substances. This is a particularly unpleasant and life-threatening danger if not controlled quickly.
So what do we do and how can we protect these precious lives in our care?
• Don’t blame yourself if your teen has gotten into negative habits.
• Yelling, yelling, crying, and other emotional outbursts would not help and will likely draw the child further away from you. Learn to speak to them in a calm and gentle tone. It’s hard when you scream inside, but it works.
• Take the time to understand what your child is feeling, make him realize that you are there for him and that you always will be, NO MATTER WHAT.
• From a very young age, encourage your children to express their opinions and make small decisions at home. This helps boost your self-esteem.
• Talk about sex as soon as they start asking questions about male and female body parts. Let them know in detail the implications of sex as they age.
• Install parental control measures on your Internet and television access.
• Encourage them to bring their friends home. Interact with your friends without judging them.
• Treat them with respect.
This article is not exhaustive. There are still many things teenagers grapple with, but with a little care and understanding on our part, we can greatly reduce the effects on them.