The person moves from child to teen in the blink of an eye. The use of computer sky rockets from disciplined management, high regulation, to complete deregulation and highly secretive interactions. Social networking has both been the downfall and the saving Grace of my teen.
The outright bullying and victimization that comes through social networking is dangerous and hits at the core of the individual. I know because even as an adult I have fell prey to this behavior from other people. When you are 12 years of age it destroys your view of who you are and the security you feel in your own existence. Perhaps this is part of the cause of anxiety and depression in our teens. It hurts and yet there is something within that says it shouldn’t; it isn’t talked about and the emotions surrounding it are not validated.
Those that experience severe anxiety can discover a network of supportive people through social networking. My teen discovered others out there who were experiencing similar difficulties and they formed an informal group that hung out and chatted whilst playing games; normalizing and validating each of their own experiences. This was a powerful resource, and a powerful connection that maintained and allowed my teen to slowly re-join life.
This is not for everyone and it can’t be manufactured by adults, carers and health care providers. It has its dangers. Grooming of young people does occur, so I had to be encouraging and supportive as well as pass on information and concerns to my teen. Suffering social anxiety did mean they were not likely to leave the house, much less meet anyone. The other greatest concern was the normalization of drug taking, risk taking, suicide discussions etc. Again I had to trust, yet be aware and present to provide the balance and the non-judgmental advice for my teen. It was heart in throat a lot of the time and very stressful, yet it was important to trust my teen and their sense of judgement and their understanding of the world. Laughter over my misunderstandings and misuse of jargon always created the space for a deeper connection and communication.
I am hoping this opens your eyes to the razor sharp line that is walked when you are dealing with teens, social networking and anxiety and depression. Every individual walks a unique path and creates their own network of support. It is not what we always expect or accept as healthy, yet it can work. Staying open and present is key as the primary carer. Listening is way more important than speaking. And laughter resolves much confusion and distance between two people.