There were days when the human race lived life in reality, and a person's worth was gauged based on their interactions with other members of society. Currently, the world has become much smaller, and information flies to every corner in the speed of light. The youth are the most affected by this change and live in a generation where digital platforms and social media are a new reality. The CNN study conducted on thirteen-year-olds revealed that a lot of teenagers lived a digital life characterized by a lot of sharing of information, photographs, documents, and videos. This cyber being exhibited by the young generation today has both positive and negative effects. Thus, it is a parent's responsibility to ensure that their child is using the internet progressively, and obstruct any form of regression.
There are some positive effects of internet use. Through social platforms, people can share sentiments, compliments, encouragements and crucial information quickly and efficiently. Through social media, some thirteen-year-old children were observed to ease the frustrations and pain of their friends (19:20). Some messages were quoted "Don't listen to them. They are jealous of you because you are an amazing person" (19:38). Teenagers often feel the need to receive gratification from their peers, and such messages of positivity raise the receivers self-esteem and help the child develop psychologically.
There is also a negative and nasty side to social media. A lot of bullying takes place online, and exposure to pornography or sexually graphic material on the internet is a primary concern too. Many thirteen-year-olds are addicted to their digital lives. Fifty-seven percent of the teenagers stated that they would preferably 'be grounded' than have their phones take away from them, that is, they would prefer a disconnection to their real lives to a detachment from their digital lives (17:00). Others revealed that they checked their online feeds hundreds of times a day (3:50). Some teens went as far as saying that they would prefer lack of food to deficiency of their phones (16:30). These cases depict a compulsive behavior associated with addiction.
Parents have a great responsibility to promote the positive cyber use and prevent their children from harmful online exposure. Even though the cyber world can be a universe of total darkness to parents, trying their best to understand and nature their children is sufficient (19:01). By using website blockers to prevent access to particular websites, parents can curb the exposure of their children to the sexually graphic material or sexual predators.
Digital living has also created a rift between the parents and their children. A lot of the words used by teens online are unknown to the parents, and children do not prefer to talk about their online life, even if something terrible happens (27:30). The severing of the sacred bond between the parent and their offspring leads to dysfunctional families and a demoralized society in general. As such, the parent should be involved in their childs cyber activities and ensure a supportive relationship exists within the family.
For most teenagers, the boundary between their real life and digital life does not exist. Through the online interactions of the youth, positive comments sent to a lot of people increase their self-esteem. The negativity of this digital life is that it leads to cyberbullying, online addiction and exposure to pornography. Therefore, parents should be responsible for their children's cyber use and encourage positive online development, as well as stronger bonds with their offspring.
CNN Special Report-Being Thirteen: Inside the Secret World of Teens. YouTube, uploaded by ConstantlySporadic, 5 October 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-9LtTtkg04.
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