Their World isn’t Our World

I’ve come to a conclusion on something: I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. I’ll talk from a female perspective, as I am one and as I have 4 daughters and a step daughter, but I’m sure that it’s equally tough for boys. 

Having spent nearly 2 weeks in the company of all 4 of my daughters on holiday – something that never normally happens due to a mixture of work, their clubs and divorce – I realise the constant, unrepentant pressure they are under in their lives. Social media – they cannot get away from it. It is all-consuming. It sucks them in and changes them in the process. It turns them into highly-strung, short-tempered individuals, who would otherwise be perfectly pleasant. In fact, who are perfectly pleasant to other people; they save their stress outs for their parents. 

Social media changes them. It’s a bit like someone who is having an affair. They have to get their next contact hit or a sick feeling builds up inside, as the stress of separation becomes almost unbearable. It’s as addictive as a drug and it also has side effects: paranoia, fear of missing out, depression. They are only the start: body image is distorted as are people’s lives. Everything is just so perfect on screen: happy photos of happy groups, photo shopped photos and photos that have been whittled down from a million selfies to one. Imagine the pressure for ‘likes’ on that one selfie. That one selfie that is literally one in a million. It is this pressure that creates stress and it is this stress that induces mental health issues in many teenagers. 

Let’s talk about sex baby and specifically on-line porn. It’s setting the benchmark for my girls’ experiences and that really bothers me. You see, I want them to feel empowered when it comes to sex – mentally as much as physically. I want them, not only to say ‘no’ if they don’t want it, but to say what they do want too. Porn is making their future sex lives so much harder. It’s setting completely unrealistic expectations and I know that this isn’t good for the boys either. 

So you see, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. Exams are all over the place right now. GCSE’s are changing all the time: is it a number you get awarded or a letter? Is it a triple science or a core? Wtf is it, because a parent here is confused. AS levels: in or out? Shake it all about. University anyone? If you fancy a debt of £46,000 hanging around your neck until you are well old. 

Decisions seemed easier when I was a teenager. You knew where you stood with your ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. University was a straight forward affair: if you were poor you got a grant and lived on baked beans for three years. Sex was as simple as fuck – just the threat of AIDS to navigate your way safely around. 

When I  ask my daughters about the pressures they face, they shrug their shoulders and quite rightly say that it is all they have ever known. They cannot imagine life without social media – of course they can’t, but us parents can’t understand why they can’t put their phones down for a minute without feeling horribly alienated from their world. 

Their world isn’t our world. They have to learn how to cope with it and we can’t help them with this one. That is why, as parents we get so frustrated with their world. 

But I repeat: their world isn’t our world. The best we can do is try to understand and deal with the inevitable fall outs: low self esteem, paranoia, depression to name but a few. What we can’t do is try to enter their world and what we absolutely must never do is cut off their lifeline to it. 

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27 thoughts on “Their World isn’t Our World”

  1. Did you see the article in the Sunday Times that recorded the social media diary of a typical teenager? I got my two to do it and it was scarey stuff. It is constant, their phones are glued to their fingers, even if they are going to the loo or cleaning their teeth. Meals are rushed now so that they can get back to their online world. Drives me potty! You are right though there is little more we can do than try to understand this is how it all is now. #bigpinklink

    1. Yes, I did. I found it shocking and also reassuring that it isn’t just my girls who are obsessed! I showed it to my partner and said that we need to understand that this is their lives, their normality. We can either create extra tensions in the house by constantly kicking against it, or accept that we can’t change it and find ways of managing it.

  2. So after reading this I’m thinking I just won’t let them have iPhones or access to social media…. (My girls are currently 9&10) Is this realistic??? I’m not actually joking!!! I do think I’d rather they were a bit uncool than subject them to all of that

    1. Yes, I’m afraid it is totally unrealistic. However, hang onto that thought for as long as you can. It’s a real learning curve parenting teens and I am definitely still learning. You will not be able to deny them access to social media and phones because that is part of their culture. It is an integral part of their teenage society, as it were. All we can do as parents is try to understand it and control it where we feel it’s necessary. We must also make sure we listen to what they tell us about it from their point of view. As I said, I feel like I am very much still learning! Thank you for your comments.

  3. I feel old reading this post. In my head I’m still 18 but when I read things like this it reminds me that I’m so far from being 18 it’s ridiculous! Having said that, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today either. The pressure was bad enough ‘back in my day’. Before the Internet, before social media, before the desire to be a 14 year old but looking like an 18 year old. I don’t envy them at all. #anythinggoes

  4. I am not a parent of teenagers, but I teach them daily. It is terrifying how much pressure is put on young people from social media and the ‘YouTube Culture’. The majority of celebrities aren’t good role models either. It is scary place and one that I’m worried about my son growing up in! #MarvMondays

  5. My twins are just ten and yet I see their budding obsession with technology. It is definitely difficult to come to terms with their life, to think that in another few years they will be on the phone with the entire world of the Internet exposed to them. And I am preparing myself to be the determined voice of sanity in their lives and hoping they will continue to come to me when that crazy world doesn’t quite measure up. #mg

    1. Yes, understand them and always keep those lines of communication open by not always dissing their world. It’s really hard and I’m definitely work in progress! Thank you so much for commenting.

  6. You’re absolutely right! We just have to try our best to help and support them with the fallout but we can’t possibly understand it. I try very often to at least focus on the positive of social media so we don’t constantly put their world down because otherwise I live in a total state of frustration – not easy though! #MarvMondays

    1. I need to try and focus on the positives more, because I found that on holiday I sounded as if I was constantly mocking them with their selfie taking and need to connect. It isn’t easy, but I am really going to try! Thank you so much for your comments.

  7. My littles are 6 and 8.5, so they havent been taken over by this yet — but we mums, we cross a fine line in how we handle social media, our smart phones and checking up and checking in. Especially when checking out and being present is the best gift we can give them. Great post. I remember when I coudl go to the bathroom and not have my phone with me. It was a better time for all. #mg

  8. Yes, I agree. You make a good point. As parents we too are guilty of being slaves to our phones. Even more reason for us to be more understanding to teenagers’ needs. Thank you for your comments and for sharing.

  9. My littles are still very little so we have a few years until we hit the teens, although I am already nervous for those years. Goodness knows how much technology and social media may change in the next 10 years before we have to combat it! Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

  10. Its such a scary world our children live in today. Its hard enough for me to switch off as a parent from social media, but imagine being a teen or tween today that has grown up in a social media, always on, technology led world and its virtually impossible to switch off. Thinking about the future that our little ones will grow up in definitely worries me at the best of times. Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

  11. I use social media myself but I know what you mean about the younger generations. I try to limit my use. My daughter is 11 and I’m dreading it! I feel that she will be a target for bullies and I’m scared – I do have a little bit longer but I know I’m going to have to give in eventually. She’s just got a phone and plays on a few things that I’ve approved but I’m expecting her to get sneaky in the future and just sign up for things anyway. I’ve put safeguards on her phone and I monitor use, and I even have access to her emails because the world is such a scary place! I know what you mean because eventually this will evolve further into pressures that you discuss. It’s a scary world and it social media worries me! Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes

    1. When my stepdaughter got a smart phone I was so worried about her internet access. I found it hard to get my head around the fact that we had spent all this time with safeguards in place and now she had 24/7 access to it in her bedroom! A few years on and I am going through this for the 5th time – my youngest is 12. As the years have gone by I have come to realise and accept that ultimately it is far more about understanding, communicating, awareness and trust, than the big brother approach. Because, with the best will in the world, they are able to access anything. Thank you so much for your comments.

  12. Mine are 12, 9 and 6, and none have phones, but my oldest has an iPad for school and when she is at school or at home she has internet access. So she can use it to text friends. She does do that, but not obsessively yet. Next year is her first year of high school and I think things will change a LOT! It scares me, I don’t mind the social aspects, but it worries me if their is bullying. I can only hope that I have raised her right and that she will open up to me, probably naive though. I hope she is not bullied or that she would bully anyone else either. Technology is a worry, but my bigger fear is drugs, that is another topic though. In many ways she is young for her age which is a blessing right now.

    We are a different generation aren’t we! #mg

    1. We certainly are. It’s funny, but when the girls were younger I worried about drugs, but not so much now. I try to keep open lines of communication and I guess I hope that they won’t do anything too stupid – we have to trust them, don’t we? They get a lot of talks on drugs at school. It is all a worry, but we can’t let our worries consume us, as I have found that’s when the teens pull away. Thank you so much for your comments – always interesting x

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