Constantly Connected: Teen Relationships and Technology
As a junior in high school who is very connected to the world online through my phone and computer, I have seen how it affects relationships in daily life. Being an extraordinarily connected person and teen has made me appreciate the effort to maintain the delicacy of the balance between relationships and technology.
When I met my current boyfriend, my father warned me not to move too quickly through the stages of familiarity that you go through when you meet someone for the first time. My father, being roughly 34 years older than me, is not nearly as familiar as I am with technology. What he does understand is that in this day in age, everyone is a mere phone call or tap of text message away. We are constantly connected. Relationships where people are constantly connected move much faster than if you were seeing each other once or twice a week and talking face to face, as opposed to the constant communication technology provides. Studies show that 20% of teens who date text their dating partner roughly 30 times in an hour during after school hours and early evening. (Teenage Research Unlimited, 2007).
As a parent, one has the opportunity and duty to your teen to inform them of the potential hazards that accompany tech infused relationships. If relationships end, or unwanted attention is being administered, it can be very hard to escape advances made by people if your daughter is connected to them via phone number, email, social media account name, etc. There are ways to block numbers and accounts on phones and social media sites, but the catch is email. To my knowledge, blocking emails can be very challenging. Bringing awareness to your daughter about other issues such as cyber bullying and violations of privacy is an important step in maintaining healthy relationships with technology. Just being informed about the potential outcomes of certain things related to technology is sometimes enough to dissuade your daughter, as opposed to enforcing rules against it. In my experience, simply informing or discussing the potential outcomes is more effective than entirely advising against something.
A technologically connected relationship is not without its perks. Long distance friendships and relationships are becoming more and more possible, as people can connect all over the world. The seconds it takes for a message of love to send half way around the world is much faster than the former of two or three weeks a letter would take. The technology does not end with the long distance relationship though, for teenagers, the internet can be a source of friendships formed through similar interests discovered through social media sites such as Tumblr and Facebook. For a teen with social anxiety that prevents them from comfortable interaction with people their age, the internet can allow them to connect and make friends that they may never meet, or who do not live in the same country as them, but still hold the same value to them and their emotional wellbeing as a friend they could see every day. For some this relationship is as important as a relationship formed through meeting at school or another activity.
As technology continues to influence our every day lives and relationships, it becomes increasingly important to have very open, clear discussions with your daughter about being safe, and still enjoying the perks of having a social life and connection through technology.
For more information and resources, visit: