Teens face unprecedented challenges, pressures due to social media, say Waterdown youth workers

News Aug 08, 2016 by Julia Lovett Flamborough Review

Once upon a time – just a generation ago – things were straightforward: teen makes a mistake; teen is punished; teen atones for his or her error. The End.

That scenario no longer exists. Thanks to the pervasive use of social media, today’s teens now live with their mistakes and, according to Penny Deathe, community youth development co-ordinator and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Ward 15 trustee, it is wreaking havoc on their mental health.

“Now, it’s published, and so within minutes, it’s all over social media if they mess up or they do something stupid in the classroom,” she said, adding that teens can no longer laugh off a gaffe and move on.

Deathe explained that because certain chat sites allow people to post anonymous comments, many teens face cyber bullying.

“We were having all kinds of mental health issues with that, like kids not wanting to go to school or kids hurt by it and just not knowing how to deal with it or not knowing how to cope with it,” she said.

According to one teen, who did not want her identity made public, there are both positive and negative elements to being on social media. Not only does she enjoy connecting with friends, she also uses it to learn about the world around her. But she acknowledged that it isn’t always like that for others. On Instagram, for example, she said she has seen her friends get envious of others they follow.

“People only post their best lives, they’re posting the best things they’re doing. They’re not posting the nights where they’re just at home by themselves watching a movie,” the teen said.

“So people kind of see this and then they’re thinking, ‘Well, why isn’t my life like that?’,” she added.

For health-care professionals, it is all about finding a way to help patients cope with the ever changing world of technology.

“It’s their culture, it’s just part of their world, so instead it has taken all of the older problems and just morphed them into a different way of having those same problems which sometimes, as everyone’s kind of acclimatizing to the technology, it can get pretty challenging,” said Waterdown-based psychotherapist and author Cheryl Bradshaw.

She explained that while the young people are developing connections and relationships on social media, keeping communications clear isn’t always possible and that can cause friction and fighting, which in turn leads to depression.

“It’s a lot easier for the bullying and gossip information to travel a lot faster as well…I mean, bullying and those types of things aren’t new but the way that they’re being done are,” Bradshaw said.

According to the teen, what normally would be private becomes everyone’s business because everyone sees it on social media and everyone has an opinion.

“I think negatively, you tend to get drawn into things,” she said. “If you see something like people…fighting, you definitely want to get involved a little bit, like it’s kind of addicting,” she said.

“I know that I’ve noticed myself getting – I love seeing like the Facebook drama and the Twitter drama,” she added.

It isn’t just the drama that has been having an impact on teens and their emotions. Bradshaw said one of the main issues she sees with her clients has to do with sleep, or the lack thereof. In her clients’ case, streaming sites like Netflix are being binge-watched to the point that the teens she sees aren’t getting enough sleep and their health starts to deteriorate.

Binge-watching becomes a coping mechanism to avoid anxiety-inducing responsibilities like homework or studying for a test, she said.

Social media is also used as an avoidance tool for youngsters who may be suffering from mental illness, added Bradshaw.

“They’re actually hyper-connected to each other in their friend groups so I’d say more so than they have been before, which is sometimes where the problem is coming from,” she noted. “They’re so engrained in each other’s lives that they’re actually finding it difficult to be by themselves.”

Bradshaw explained that after their friends have gone to sleep or disconnect, the struggling teen has time to think in the quiet.

“If they haven’t figured out how to have a relationship with themselves and how to have that internal dialogue and monitor their thoughts and change them and notice them and understand them and all that stuff, then they can spiral at night and get into depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts.”

The teen believes part of the problem is that while technology transition was gradual for the generation that came before, she and her friends were given everything – all at once.

“Here’s your phone, here’s your iPad, here’s your other computer, here’s your second computer, here’s your other phone; we have so much access to all this stuff that it does become addicting,” she said, adding that she has seen her peers go through withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have their phones in their hands.

“They’re going to get depressed; they’re going to feel anxious without it because they feel like they’re missing something,” she said.

Deathe, who is a parent of teens, noted that while it is easy to focus on the negative effects social media can have, a lot of good can come from it. Sites like I’mAlive.org and KidsHelpPhone.com can counsel youth in crisis, while Happier.com is a website that dedicated to all things positive.

“There are so many very good, helpful sites that are there to support youth as well and help them, so I think it’s a matter of knowing the good from the bad,” she said.

Teens face unprecedented challenges, pressures due to social media, say Waterdown youth workers

News Aug 08, 2016 by Julia Lovett Flamborough Review

Once upon a time – just a generation ago – things were straightforward: teen makes a mistake; teen is punished; teen atones for his or her error. The End.

That scenario no longer exists. Thanks to the pervasive use of social media, today’s teens now live with their mistakes and, according to Penny Deathe, community youth development co-ordinator and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Ward 15 trustee, it is wreaking havoc on their mental health.

“Now, it’s published, and so within minutes, it’s all over social media if they mess up or they do something stupid in the classroom,” she said, adding that teens can no longer laugh off a gaffe and move on.

Deathe explained that because certain chat sites allow people to post anonymous comments, many teens face cyber bullying.

“We were having all kinds of mental health issues with that, like kids not wanting to go to school or kids hurt by it and just not knowing how to deal with it or not knowing how to cope with it,” she said.

According to one teen, who did not want her identity made public, there are both positive and negative elements to being on social media. Not only does she enjoy connecting with friends, she also uses it to learn about the world around her. But she acknowledged that it isn’t always like that for others. On Instagram, for example, she said she has seen her friends get envious of others they follow.

“People only post their best lives, they’re posting the best things they’re doing. They’re not posting the nights where they’re just at home by themselves watching a movie,” the teen said.

“So people kind of see this and then they’re thinking, ‘Well, why isn’t my life like that?’,” she added.

For health-care professionals, it is all about finding a way to help patients cope with the ever changing world of technology.

“It’s their culture, it’s just part of their world, so instead it has taken all of the older problems and just morphed them into a different way of having those same problems which sometimes, as everyone’s kind of acclimatizing to the technology, it can get pretty challenging,” said Waterdown-based psychotherapist and author Cheryl Bradshaw.

She explained that while the young people are developing connections and relationships on social media, keeping communications clear isn’t always possible and that can cause friction and fighting, which in turn leads to depression.

“It’s a lot easier for the bullying and gossip information to travel a lot faster as well…I mean, bullying and those types of things aren’t new but the way that they’re being done are,” Bradshaw said.

According to the teen, what normally would be private becomes everyone’s business because everyone sees it on social media and everyone has an opinion.

“I think negatively, you tend to get drawn into things,” she said. “If you see something like people…fighting, you definitely want to get involved a little bit, like it’s kind of addicting,” she said.

“I know that I’ve noticed myself getting – I love seeing like the Facebook drama and the Twitter drama,” she added.

It isn’t just the drama that has been having an impact on teens and their emotions. Bradshaw said one of the main issues she sees with her clients has to do with sleep, or the lack thereof. In her clients’ case, streaming sites like Netflix are being binge-watched to the point that the teens she sees aren’t getting enough sleep and their health starts to deteriorate.

Binge-watching becomes a coping mechanism to avoid anxiety-inducing responsibilities like homework or studying for a test, she said.

Social media is also used as an avoidance tool for youngsters who may be suffering from mental illness, added Bradshaw.

“They’re actually hyper-connected to each other in their friend groups so I’d say more so than they have been before, which is sometimes where the problem is coming from,” she noted. “They’re so engrained in each other’s lives that they’re actually finding it difficult to be by themselves.”

Bradshaw explained that after their friends have gone to sleep or disconnect, the struggling teen has time to think in the quiet.

“If they haven’t figured out how to have a relationship with themselves and how to have that internal dialogue and monitor their thoughts and change them and notice them and understand them and all that stuff, then they can spiral at night and get into depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts.”

The teen believes part of the problem is that while technology transition was gradual for the generation that came before, she and her friends were given everything – all at once.

“Here’s your phone, here’s your iPad, here’s your other computer, here’s your second computer, here’s your other phone; we have so much access to all this stuff that it does become addicting,” she said, adding that she has seen her peers go through withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have their phones in their hands.

“They’re going to get depressed; they’re going to feel anxious without it because they feel like they’re missing something,” she said.

Deathe, who is a parent of teens, noted that while it is easy to focus on the negative effects social media can have, a lot of good can come from it. Sites like I’mAlive.org and KidsHelpPhone.com can counsel youth in crisis, while Happier.com is a website that dedicated to all things positive.

“There are so many very good, helpful sites that are there to support youth as well and help them, so I think it’s a matter of knowing the good from the bad,” she said.

Teens face unprecedented challenges, pressures due to social media, say Waterdown youth workers

News Aug 08, 2016 by Julia Lovett Flamborough Review

Once upon a time – just a generation ago – things were straightforward: teen makes a mistake; teen is punished; teen atones for his or her error. The End.

That scenario no longer exists. Thanks to the pervasive use of social media, today’s teens now live with their mistakes and, according to Penny Deathe, community youth development co-ordinator and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board Ward 15 trustee, it is wreaking havoc on their mental health.

“Now, it’s published, and so within minutes, it’s all over social media if they mess up or they do something stupid in the classroom,” she said, adding that teens can no longer laugh off a gaffe and move on.

Deathe explained that because certain chat sites allow people to post anonymous comments, many teens face cyber bullying.

“We were having all kinds of mental health issues with that, like kids not wanting to go to school or kids hurt by it and just not knowing how to deal with it or not knowing how to cope with it,” she said.

According to one teen, who did not want her identity made public, there are both positive and negative elements to being on social media. Not only does she enjoy connecting with friends, she also uses it to learn about the world around her. But she acknowledged that it isn’t always like that for others. On Instagram, for example, she said she has seen her friends get envious of others they follow.

“People only post their best lives, they’re posting the best things they’re doing. They’re not posting the nights where they’re just at home by themselves watching a movie,” the teen said.

“So people kind of see this and then they’re thinking, ‘Well, why isn’t my life like that?’,” she added.

For health-care professionals, it is all about finding a way to help patients cope with the ever changing world of technology.

“It’s their culture, it’s just part of their world, so instead it has taken all of the older problems and just morphed them into a different way of having those same problems which sometimes, as everyone’s kind of acclimatizing to the technology, it can get pretty challenging,” said Waterdown-based psychotherapist and author Cheryl Bradshaw.

She explained that while the young people are developing connections and relationships on social media, keeping communications clear isn’t always possible and that can cause friction and fighting, which in turn leads to depression.

“It’s a lot easier for the bullying and gossip information to travel a lot faster as well…I mean, bullying and those types of things aren’t new but the way that they’re being done are,” Bradshaw said.

According to the teen, what normally would be private becomes everyone’s business because everyone sees it on social media and everyone has an opinion.

“I think negatively, you tend to get drawn into things,” she said. “If you see something like people…fighting, you definitely want to get involved a little bit, like it’s kind of addicting,” she said.

“I know that I’ve noticed myself getting – I love seeing like the Facebook drama and the Twitter drama,” she added.

It isn’t just the drama that has been having an impact on teens and their emotions. Bradshaw said one of the main issues she sees with her clients has to do with sleep, or the lack thereof. In her clients’ case, streaming sites like Netflix are being binge-watched to the point that the teens she sees aren’t getting enough sleep and their health starts to deteriorate.

Binge-watching becomes a coping mechanism to avoid anxiety-inducing responsibilities like homework or studying for a test, she said.

Social media is also used as an avoidance tool for youngsters who may be suffering from mental illness, added Bradshaw.

“They’re actually hyper-connected to each other in their friend groups so I’d say more so than they have been before, which is sometimes where the problem is coming from,” she noted. “They’re so engrained in each other’s lives that they’re actually finding it difficult to be by themselves.”

Bradshaw explained that after their friends have gone to sleep or disconnect, the struggling teen has time to think in the quiet.

“If they haven’t figured out how to have a relationship with themselves and how to have that internal dialogue and monitor their thoughts and change them and notice them and understand them and all that stuff, then they can spiral at night and get into depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts.”

The teen believes part of the problem is that while technology transition was gradual for the generation that came before, she and her friends were given everything – all at once.

“Here’s your phone, here’s your iPad, here’s your other computer, here’s your second computer, here’s your other phone; we have so much access to all this stuff that it does become addicting,” she said, adding that she has seen her peers go through withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have their phones in their hands.

“They’re going to get depressed; they’re going to feel anxious without it because they feel like they’re missing something,” she said.

Deathe, who is a parent of teens, noted that while it is easy to focus on the negative effects social media can have, a lot of good can come from it. Sites like I’mAlive.org and KidsHelpPhone.com can counsel youth in crisis, while Happier.com is a website that dedicated to all things positive.

“There are so many very good, helpful sites that are there to support youth as well and help them, so I think it’s a matter of knowing the good from the bad,” she said.