PUBLISHER’S NOTE: We have published 2 articles recently about understanding current teen online lingo and about a new software product which allows parents the ability to monitor their kids online activities. Dr. Greg Ramey, a child psychologist and Dayton Daily News columnist wrote an excellent article a few weeks ago for his FamilyWise column. It really helps put this entire topic in greater context.
If you missed our prior articles, please read “Abbreviations Kids Use on Cellphones That Parents Should Know” and then the second one, “Parents – Are You Worried About Your Kids Online Safety?” With Dr. Ramey’s permission, here is “Clues to Secret Lives of Teens”:
Your teen has a secret life — feeling, thinking and acting in ways unknown to most parents. Therapy offers young adults the confidentiality and safety to reveal themselves in ways that they cannot do with others. Here is a glimpse at your teen’s private world.
- High level of insecurity. Many teens feel uncomfortable and uncertain about who they are. They are excessively worried about everything from the color of their sneakers to the size of their privates or the shape of their breasts. They compare themselves to media models, seeking an ideal they can never achieve.
- The internet is their third parent. The digital universe is their secular God, the truthful source of all information. Within moments, they can seek out emotional comfort or buy tickets to an upcoming concert. Some teens have an incredibly hard time not using their phone in a 60-minute session with me. I’ll actually incorporate using a cell phone as part of my therapy session with some kids. I need to connect with their world.
- Fake identities. To avoid your surveillance of their social media sites, teens create false names. You monitor their real name, but their false identity is known only to a few. Kids justify this deceit because of their resentment regarding how you treat them. They perceive your monitoring as an invasion of privacy, similar to you reading their journal.
- High users of pornography. Teens are incredibly sexual, in spite of how they appear to you. They have intense physical and passionate reactions throughout the day. They are an emotional cauldron, with an intense mixture of anxiety, excitement, confusion and self-doubt. Pornography is their educator and source of sexual stimulation. A young teen recently told me he was bored when his dad tried to talk with him about sex. He already “knew everything” from watching porno videos on his smartphone.
- They want you, but on their terms. Your teens love and need you, but only want to interact with you when it’s convenient. At times, teens appear to be indifferent if you attend some event or engage them in conversations. They say one thing but mean another. This is frustrating for parents. Most teens want your attention, but in a more low-key manner.
- They dislike your demonization of social media. Kids hate your lectures about the dangers of the internet. They feel they are smart enough to stay away from sexual predators and cyber-bullying.
Teens feel you don’t understand that the internet is a source of support, encouragement and fun. It’s the only place they can truly be themselves. The challenge is to avoid ridiculing their world, while still helping them be responsible digital citizens.
Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. Join Dr. Ramey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drgregramey. Dr. Ramey has been a guest contributor to the Ohio Family Blog since 2007.
[Reprinted by permission from the August 13, 2017, edition of the Dayton Daily News, “Clues to Secret Lives of Teens”, Gregory Ramey, PhD]
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Guest Contributor Gregory Ramey, PhD, Child Psychologist and Dayton Daily News Columnist
Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a nationally recognized child psychologist and columnist who has worked at Dayton Children’s Hospital since 1979. In addition to his weekly column in the Dayton Daily News about effective parenting, Ramey has conducted more than 200 workshops and has recently been quoted in articles in Redbook, Parenting, Ladies Home Journal as well as columns distributed by the New York Times Wire Service.