We need to protect this generation from the grip of the virtual world
Adolescence is a stage in life which requires the individual to make a number of choices. The internet and social media are adding new pressures that did not exist until a few years ago. The way people communicate has changed and in this modern age we may find it difficult to reach out.
Academic studies have found that the advances in communication tools have caused anxiety and depression in some adolescents. Some are psychologically harmed by bullying on the internet.
For adolescents, smartphones and tablets are the order of the day. We cannot ignore this reality. What matters is how adolescents and youths communicate in the digital world and how as adults we can ensure that they are protected from potential harm.
The selfies culture and obsession on how one looks on social media is leading to the absurd illusion of the ‘perfect’ life lived by other adolescents and youths. This is leading to deep feelings of inadequacy and the feeling that one has no purpose in life. It is also leading to an obsession with the supposed requirement to perfect one’s look.
The same academic study found that one third of female adolescents are judged on their looks and one fourth of adolescents feel the need to look perfect.
Psychiatrists believe that this is a unique generation as it is the first one that has been exposed to social media. Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are more than complicit in this crisis. In fact, they are more or less responsible for it.
Today’s reality is that there are a number of mental health issues that are caused by the culture of the internet that need to be addressed at the roots. Teachers and educators in schools need to encourage students to get a good night’s sleep and go out and enjoy themselves with their friends in real life rather than spend the night online.
Like it or not we need to recognise that there are adolescents and youths who need our help and attention.