Parenting in the age of social media
As the social world shrinks to a fist-sized mouse or the tip of a finger, the rules of social interaction are getting increasingly blurred
Aditi Garg

Youngsters have chances of getting addicted to social media. By tactful handling, parents have to ensure judicious use of Facebook, without turning into tyrants
Youngsters have chances of getting addicted to social media. By tactful handling, parents have to ensure judicious use of Facebook, without turning into tyrants

Trusting parents and digital-age teens that take them for a ride easily, make for a troubling prospect and is the stark reality. According to a survey by McAfee in seven Indian cities, 79 per cent of parents trust their kids with the content they access on the Internet but a startling 47 per cent teens have seen sexual content online. 70 per cent parents trust their kids to tell them about their online activities, while 55 per cent teens admit they don't.

Instead of hanging out with friends over a game of cricket or sitting together working on a school projects, they are busy exchanging the newest messages, (including porn clips) on platforms like Whatsapp and changing their status updates with content that could leave their parents red faced.

Samekhsha Puri, mother of thirteen-year-old twins, had been at loggerheads with her pre-teens for a month before they turn 13. The demand smartphones for easy access to Facebook and Whatsapp! She says, "While many kids in their class have smartphones, I never agreed to it. My daughter pleaded with tears and my son with complete refusal to comply with anything I said. After almost a month of bargaining from either side, I finally agreed to get them lower-end smartphones for their birthday and allowed them to register for social media websites only on the condition that they would 'friend' me and let me check on them."

A fifteen-year-old from Jalandhar, Preet Arora, says, "Parents would love it if we never grew up. We spend a lot of time with our friends and cannot shrug off interaction with them once we are home. And I think that social media is the perfect platform for that with all the benefits of talking to friends minus the inflated call bills." Shruti, his classmate, wishes her parents would ease up on her Whatsapp and Facebook usage and stop checking on her.

With parental focus on Facebook and Whatsapp, teens are migrating to Instagram and Twitter where parents are less likely to keep tabs. This means that they will find ways to circumvent parental controls. On the other hand, spooked by the growing incidence of crimes relating to identity thefts, sexual predators and peer-against-peer ganging up online, parents want to be sure everything is under control.

Nidhi Kaul, a psychologist at Lancer's International School, Gurgaon, says it is a matter of perpetual debate between parents and children. She opines, "In today's digital age, Facebook, smartphones and the like are not luxuries but something that teens have grown up around. While it is definitely a no-no for kids, teens can be allowed access depending on individual levels of maturity. But it is wrong when parents try to replace the time they spend with their kids with gadgets and allow social media access. Spend time getting to know their friends and pressures they are under. Most of the times, kids pressurise their parents to give in to their demands due to peer pressure. Inculcating strong family values ensures they are not tempted to misuse their liberties."

A judicious use of social media is not detrimental and helps teens to be in sync with the times. At their age, armed with smartphones which enable access 247, it is easier said than done. For teens, it is important to take their parents into confidence and for the parents to understand that peer pressure is a big deal at this age. When your teen confides in you, instead of reprimanding, be a solid support and encourage rather than scare them away.




Soul Talk

Shopping companions: Miranda Kerr for men and moms for women

According to a recent research by Ikea Family, men and women shop very differently. While women would prefer to shop with their mothers, men would choose Miranda Kerr over their mother. Though women visit the home-ware section eight times more than men, they shop 26 per cent less than men who buy bigger stuff like furniture as opposed to women who go in for curios. They also identified 'Smart Buyers' who balanced expensive purchases with budgeted goods and they accounted for 41per cent of the shoppers. The incorrigible decorators accounted for 22 per cent of the shoppers, while a 3 per cent of the shoppers are scared of decorating. The under-confident home-ware shopper accounts for 16 per cent and the very organised homemakers are around 12 per cent. A 6 per cent of the shoppers buy in panic and consider redecorating only what really needs to be done.

Girls getting more graduation degrees than boys

Consider the facts - more women enrol for graduation degrees and are less likely to drop out as compared to boys. Girls, in fact, account for roughly 60 per cent graduate degrees. Research has found that this gap has less to do with capability or inclination and more to do with the finances. The rising cost of education forces men to rethink their priorities and are less willing to take on big debts for education. This is also a reason that eggs them on to start working full time rather than invest time and money into an education. The new study has been published in Gender and Society journal as "Gender, Debt and Dropping Out of College" by three Ohio State University and Pacific Lutheran University professors and is based on a long-term study of youth from 1997 to 2011.

Sleep deprivation causes fast-food binges in teens

Less than seven hours of sleep per night leads to bad food choices by teens and it makes them less likely to choose fruits and vegetables in their meals. A university news release of Stony Brook University School of Medicine stated that that teens low on sleep don't just choose bad foods but also avoid good foods. The ill-effects of bad food choices range from health ailments to compromised decision making. The study covered data collected from 13,000 teens whose interviews were conducted in 1996. About 18 per cent of teens who were not getting enough sleep were into fast food twice or more than twice a week. Their intake of fruits and vegetables was also low. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, nine to ten hours of sleep is imperative for teens.

Jewellery significant to women for memories & experiences

Petra Ahde-Deal's dissertation has pointed to a finding that women have believed for a long time; that their choices in jewellery are ruled by the experiences associated with various pieces. She explores the social reasons for wearing jewellery that are considered important by various women. It gives due emphasis to personal experience as a reason to own and possess jewellery which is a very important facet of buying and preferring certain jewellery but has not been given due importance till now. Based on design probes and in-depth interviews of 28 Finnish women and women from US, she documented their jewellery for nine days and analysed the choices based on personal interviews and pictures of each one. The dissertation goes by the title Women and jewellery: A social approach to wearing and possessing jewellery.

Compiled by AG