Teenagers and technology are like peanut butter and jelly. The lives of today’s teenagers seem to be deeply integrated with technology, whether in their academics, social lives, or hobbies and pastimes. Schools have begun deepening their focus on the technological competence of their students. We can also notice teenage friendships taking on a new dimension in social media. Teenagers also utilize technology for viral trends and popular video games. Because of all these, parents need to know the teenagers’ perspective on technology so that they can take advantage of the benefits and minimize the risks of its use.
My perspective on technology
My perspective on technology might be a little outdated. When I was a teenager, the most significant technological shift of my time was the introduction of the smartphone into Singapore. Apple’s iPhone was making waves, and Samsung was quickly closing the gap. My peers and I were thrilled by how the wealth of knowledge the Internet could provide was now in the palm of our hand, something that was ingenious for its time. However, we spent most of our time playing touchscreen games.
Teenagers’ perspective on technology
Today, our understanding and perspective on technology have evolved. Over the years, we can process and analyze technology’s effect on humanity, seeing how it has shifted in recent years. For tech-savvy teenagers, they do not only know how to use their devices’ functions; they are also becoming more aware of their potentials, for better or worse.
As parents, you need to understand teenagers’ outlook on technology in their lives to offer more personalized and targeted guidance for an ever-evolving technoscape. Knowing how teenagers view technology can help manage the risks that come with the use of technology.
Below are how teenagers view technology in the vital areas of their lives:
1. Human connection
The presence of the Internet and enhancements in messaging technology make it easier for us to connect with family and friends. A few button-presses are all it takes to instantly send a message to someone across the globe, where they can access your message at their leisure. As a result, both the quantity and quality of relationships have increased in recent times.
Today, teenagers view technology as a powerful tool to establish and maintain relationships. They primarily use social media to keep in touch with friends through messaging and content-sharing. Over social media platforms, friends share their interests. They share humorous memes and images or videos of their activities, the food they eat, and just about anything interesting. Teenagers also look for other individuals with shared interests and connect on common topics regardless of geographical location. Through different online apps, teenagers have a way to bond with friends over interactive online games.
Despite all these benefits, technology poses a significant risk for our teenagers. The anonymity that the Internet provides can pose dangers for online interactions, especially predatory behaviour. As parents, it is necessary to take caution of your children’s Internet use without entirely cutting off their contact with online friends.
There are many applications for technology in learning. In and out of school, teenagers use collaborative platforms to work on projects simultaneously, review each other’s work, and build upon each others’ ideas. Schools’ perspective on technology is also widening. They facilitate technology-based learning by developing their internal infrastructure for file-sharing and group work.
Technology also plays a role in increasing interest and engagement with their lessons. The use of memes is common in introducing concepts humorously and memorably to improve teenagers’ grasp of their studies. Integration with video games, such as Minecraft, also allows teenagers to explore and interact with their environment. They can learn new ideas and engage in teamwork via a virtual sandbox.
Technology presents a whole new level of interactive learning for teenagers. Because of this, parents should aim to help children harness the potential the Internet can bring. You can recommend specific websites that are reliable and informative. You can also advise your teenagers to set specific time limits on entertainment-focused websites and activities. Establishing clear boundaries should give them a head-start in cultivating a healthy and productive digital lifestyle.
Today’s technology gives everyone, including teenagers, a voice to propagate ideas, ideals, and visions for the future. Teenagers use technology to coordinate with each other to advocate for causes they believe in, to change the world into a kinder, more inclusive one. Be it fighting against poverty, pressuring world leaders to act upon climate change, or even doing fun challenges to spread awareness of diseases, teenagers have turned technology into a potent force for good.
To help your teenager develop both their voice and activism, help them research the causes close to their heart and sieve out information together. Work with them to build their confidence in speaking out and working with others to achieve a similar goal.
Teenagers’ perspective on the risks of technology
Without proper guidance, technology may pose risks to teenagers. As parents, you need to be aware of these dangers and how your children view these risks if they are even aware of them.
Overuse of technology, particularly that of social media and video games, is becoming common to teenagers, leading to addiction. Social media addiction tends to result in a twisted perception of reality, which has implications for teenagers’ mental well-being. Unfortunately, teenagers do not perceive technology this way. A lack of understanding of how social media can drain one’s mental health, combined with social media allure, can negatively impact teenagers’ emotional and social development and hurt their self-esteem. While mental health awareness has begun to spread across social media, the threat of addiction remains because of technology’s pervasive nature.
A similar problem occurs for video games. Recently, the World Health Organization formally recognized “gaming disorder” as addictive behavior. Current video games are designed to get the player’s attention for prolonged periods, over weeks and even months, by drip-feeding new activities and rewards. It can be easy for teenagers to be lured by these rewards and have their priorities skewed by poor time management.
Parents can help their teenagers manage possible addiction by having honest discussions about the addictive nature of technology and showing them healthy alternatives to technology usage, such as exercising and reading. You can help your teenager regulate their time by placing limits on how long they spend on social media and gaming and rewarding their efforts when they stick to those limits.
As teenagers grow into competent and mature adults, one significant obstacle is that of misinformation. Even with a reasonably well-informed perspective on technology, the great deal of content shared over the Internet can make it difficult for teenagers to discern if the information is reliable. In our age of half-truths and alternative facts, it is easy to be caught up in movements without adequately verifying the facts.
However, teenagers are also aware of managing the information they receive and the importance of doing so. With a desire to speak and act responsibly, they are driven to be accurate and effective by getting all their facts in order. Thorough and verifiable research is not beyond teenagers, especially if parents assist their children in this aspect.
Here are some things you can do to help teenagers avoid misinformation:
- Try to provide alternatives to the views and opinions they may see and show them how to identify the difference between fact and fiction.
- Help them spot what sources are reliable and how they can verify the information they receive online.
- Discuss if the sources they refer to have any apparent agendas or specific messages being conveyed and what to make of this information.