Changing technology means the space between parent and teenager feels greater than ever. But it doesn’t have to be, writes Luke Martin.*
It’s no secret that raising teenagers is hard. They are excitable, passionate and wonderfully chaotic. But adolescence has its share of experimentation and risk-taking that leaves parents hanging on for dear life.
There are numerous changing trends that dictate social behaviours, not to mention the turbulent friendships and emotional roller-coasters.
Add to the equation technology that is moving faster than any other point in history, and the space between parent and teenager has been amplified to a significant chasm.
This is why I created ‘In The Know’, a seminar-based educational service designed to empower parents with a range of information vital to raising teenagers in modern culture.
Having been a youth worker for the past decade, the program was born out of my reflection that parents are finding it difficult to know how to tackle a plethora of new issues with their teen provoked by changing technology.
Worse still, many aren’t even aware of how drastic these changes are, or that they are failing to tackle them at all.
The reality is that technology has accentuated the parent-teenager divide to the point where parents, more often than not, are dangerously naive to the world of their teenager.
This naivety and lack of understanding towards technology naturally leaves parents feeling intimidated by the unknown (i.e. social media) and it detracts greatly from their sense of authority and confidence to make strong parenting decisions.
It is difficult for a parent to put rules in place around the home for something they don’t even understand.
This is why information is key. I firmly believe that being informed is the most powerful tool a parent can have, because it empowers them with authority and confidence.
In The Know is more than a conversation about how smartphones work or what Snapchat is. It’s a conversation about how the entire social landscape of adolescence has changed.
Having a crush on a celebrity is no longer just a poster on a wall; you can follow their day-to-day lives via Instagram. Pornography is no longer a Playboy centrefold; it’s violent, graphic and highly accessible. Popularity is no longer just a schoolyard problem; shaping your public persona is a round-the-clock job.
Teenagers are fantastic, but they need strong parents who can act decisively around these issues. Make technology your friend and you’ll find that there are countless resources available to make you an informed, empowered parent.
Luke Martin is a youth worker and communicator with more than 10 years of experience working in schools. In The Know is an interactive information seminar run in partnership with schools, churches and sporting clubs. For enquiries visit www.intheknowparenting.com.au.