Networked teens

Many parents despair over what they consider unreasonably high use by their teens of mobile phones, gaming, social media and technology.

It's interesting to think about why teens might be doing this.  We've heard about the dopamine hits and addictive nature of social media "likes", and the ensuing moral panic.

However in many ways, networked teens are simply doing what they've always done, and we can consider their use of online networking as a way to achieve necessary developmental tasks of individuation and separation.

In her books, "It's Complicated- the Social Lives of Networked Teens", Danah Boyd points points out the increasingly teenagers have less freedom to meet in groups as they once have done in malls, parks, carparks, fast food restaurants and other public places.  She claims that safety-conscious parents are keeping teens at home rather than in public places because they believe they are safer at home.  She also says that society is less tolerant of large groups of youths hanging out and regard them with suspicion.  

Another trend impacting youth is the growing trend by parents and caregivers in all demographics to structure the time of young people.  Activities such as extra tuition, sports, music, cultural or religious requirements are provided to support teens to be successful, healthy and contributing.  

Teens need unstructured time to hang out in groups, or on their own, to explore, roam and be independent, away from the scrutiny and gaze of adults.  In a world where this is becoming harder and harder to do in real life (and let's not forget impossible during the pandemic restrictions), the opportunities to do these things online become more appealing and accessible.

Photo by Dmitriy Tyukov on Unsplash


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