Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Teens, Technology, and the Need for a Listener

by Jane Wangersky | December 11th, 2015 | Social, Teens

teen computer (400x400)Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, psychologist and author (novels The Truth, Diary Of A Gutsy Tween and Secrets: Diary Of A Gutsy Teen, also the stage play The Locket), is addressing teen issues in a new format — film. Her short film The Truth, now in production, follows a girl dealing with love, moving, parents fighting, and much more.

I had the chance to ask Dr. Holstein about her project.

The girl at the center of the film finds that her traditional diary “doesn’t feel like enough”, so she also records a video diary. What is it about today’s world that would make a teen want to do that?

The world has changed so much in the last 30 years or so.  Homes now have computers, televisions in every room, people all have cell phones, etc. Kids are used to technology in a way we never were.  They are also used to reaching out in everything from e-mails to social media.  An e-mail to grandma may be just a shortcut to mailing a letter.  But once a tween or teen gets used to sharing thoughts and pictures in public spaces like Facebook, Instagram,chat rooms,etc. then they are used to sharing themselves with a world they are not completely familiar with in ways we never thought about. For me, growing up, even having a penpal in another country that I had never met was an unbelievable leap out of my home, town, and personal universe.

What all of this means is that the fun of a secret diary may or may not be so for a particular tween or teen.  Some are looking beyond privacy for that new person or that public domain where they can share their pain, feelings, concerns, yearnings. Others just love the idea of going public, as with selfies on Facebook.  And some kids just love the technology. They just want to use it, just because it is there!  Exactly why the “Girl” in The Truth, a Short Film, is recording beyond her diary is left up to the viewer to decide.

Should parents try to be the “listener” their teens need, or do teens need someone else to fill the role?

Parents should definitively try to be the major “listener” their teen needs.  In fact, usually they are the best equipped to do the job, as they know they child inside out, and also hopefully understand many of the problems and concerns that their family faces and that their daughter has on her mind.  There is nothing more reassuring to a child than a parent that really “gets” what the kid is going through and handles the situation with love and caring.  On the other hand, being too intrusive will not solve any growing pains.  So tact, timing and thoughtfulness are in order.  And by the way, don’t be afraid to share the honors of being your daughter’s listening buddy.  A grandparent, aunt, guidance counselor, and at times even a therapist, may also be necessary.

(To be continued)

(Photo courtesy of dndavis)

Comments on Teens, Technology, and the Need for a Listener