It’s Time to Bring Up the Flying Elephant in the Room: Social Media & Adolescents

Grownups are known to have an interesting relationship with their adolescent children and even more so with social media. As a results, social media and raising teenagers comes with eyebrows lifted, empty threats and doors slamming.

Research by Dr Sarah Cayne comes to the rescue to diffuse situations where parents of short temper and teenagers of quick action have to negotiate on the use of social media.

As it turns out, the same rules should apply to both parents and teenagers. This includes winding down at least one hours before going to sleep with no screen-time and most importantly: be an active user.

Scrolling through life, may it be your life or others’, is short of any benefits. Dr Cayne advises to set the intentions before going on social media – do you want to engage with the latest #Ronaldo trend or see what the Kardashians are up to? That’s fine. Engage with their audience, become part of the community and be kind in the process.

Trying to escape boredom through passive action doesn’t work. Social media is as good of a tool as you make it.

Connect deeply with others. Our humanity is the one thing that we all have in common.

Melinda Gates


Does time spent on social media impact mental health? New BYU study shows screen time isn’t the problem.

Part I: How Do We Prepare for The World?

The world as we know it reveals itself the way it was described to us by the educators we encountered during our upbringing. People act as if they know more about life and they often do, they know more than they can convey in a constructive manner.

The words and actions we share with the young people in our community impacts them. The impact can be uplifting or jeopardizing. A good example is sharing views about politics (sensitive topic for many), not just national politics but, let’s say, politics of employment or politics of achievement.

Exhibit A:

‘You need connections to get there’ is a dead end if you weren’t born with connections.

Exhibit B:

‘You can build your way up’ reflects work and commitment preceding success.

We often let our emotions come in the way of educating the less experienced. This inevitably expands boundaries unique to an individual to another being that did not have the same lived experience, but behave as if the did.

My answer to preparing for the world is – you don’t. You heighten your senses, live life mindfully and take actions that lead to a life of purpose. And there is only that much that people around us can do to train us without taking over our views.

The Lonely, ‘Safe’ & Underachieving Castle of Adolescence

The best way to look after a young female adult is surely to lock them up, right? What if I told you that the punishment of isolation or even worse – the lifestyle of loneliness does more to your female teen than just proving a point?

A recent study published by Science Daily shows direct correlation between housed alone female mice during adolescence and the likelihood of ‘habitual behavior’, or mindless living to occur (Hinton et al, 2019).

This means that female adolescents are more likely to fall into addictive patterns and less likely to have a goal-oriented approach towards life. What causes it? The prefrontal cortex develops atypically and since the prefrontal cortex is responsible with planning, thinking in the now and awareness of the present moment (which is something that meditation & mindfulness helps with), female teens who have been socially isolated develop in deficit.

Why was the study conducted on female mice only? One explanation that I’ve found is that housed isolation in the aggressive species of male mice is actually beneficial, as it eliminates reproductive competition and limits the reasons for aggressive behavior.

This certainly makes me rethink the traditional understanding of what is socially acceptable when raising children and what science has to say about it.

The bottom line is: don’t lock up your adolescent child, unless you want them to become complacent adults, sailing through life without a sense of being in the now.

We reveal that mice with a history of social isolation during adolescence are biased toward habit-like behaviors, despite social reintegration in adulthood.

Hinton et al, 2019

The New You Should Never Get Old.

‘Identity’ is an ever-morphing concept. We take pride in who we are from a young age and allow our preferences to dictate our identity. Preferences and not beliefs.

The first layer of conscious identity is forced on us by the views of our parents, carers, teachers – people. Before we get to take control of our narrative and even before we get to know who we are, we are aware of who we are expected to be.

It isn’t just the disconnect between what’s within us and what is projected on us that harms our potential, but also how imperceptible change is. What we don’t notice doesn’t get labelled which means that the old labels are out of date and trap us into falling into old patterns.

1 Minute Exercise:

Take one identity that really stands-out to you when you think about it eg. clumsy, know-it-all, lazy, serious. Think about experiences when you acted contrary to the general belief. What does this say about you?

Raising a Child Into Becoming a Remarkable Partner of Opposite Sex: Undo, Undo, Undo!

I grew up in a community where being heterosexual (attracted to opposite sex) and monogamous (being with one person at a time) was not up for debate.

Even if this created tensions through relationships outside marriage or same sex relationships, people felt entitled to another person’s life.

The culprit was clearly the person acting unusual, unacceptable, outside of the norm.

In those times of crisis, the person committing the ‘crime’ would not evaluate their own needs. They would so desperately try to fit in, make other people happy, that they would attempt to go against their instincts. And failed every single time, harming themselves and others in the process.

This entire circus thought me to base my happiness on other people’s behavior, to put myself at the centre of other people’s lives and allowed others a central role in mine. It’s easy to see how things can get off-balance with all the forces at play.

The heteronormative thinking (where ‘1 she + 1 he = The relationship’ is the norm) got us this far: heterosexualised aggression from an early stage between young people (Ringrose, 2008), bullying & harassment towards non-conforming students (Miller & Gilligan, 2014), marginalised lesbian mothers accessing heteronormaitve health services (Halcomb, 2013). Now with more children than we can feed, defend and care for, we still find the time to perpetuate these negative behaviors.

‘School environments may well breed, enable, perpetuate, or even encourage bullying behaviors targeted at queer students, due to the fact that they are historically and institutionally designed to socialize and normalize children for life in what is assumed to be a universal society in which all citizens share common identities, goals, beliefs, values, and so on.’

Miller & Gillian, 2014

Cultivating meaningful relationships where our child, partner, close one is our friend, ally and, most importantly, is their own person while we remain our own person also is a must.

Without a PhD in ‘Why We Need to Upgrade Their Belief System in Order to Evolve’ I can firmly say that raising children for the past reality is not the way forward.

Conditional Loving and Selfishness

I recently came across terminology to name unconditional love as expressed by Dr Shefali on Impact Theory under the name of ‘high love’.

High love is aspirational. Is being able to cultivate a feeling beyond all the personal wants – reassurance, attachment, recognition, love, respect. High love is being able to love another without conditioning them to a certain type of behavior or pretending reciprocity.

“It’s narcissistic to think that we can raise another being when we haven’t raised ourselves.”

Dr Shefali

Dr Shefali’s views on parenting go beyond the norm. From the relationships with our own parents and understanding their parenting strategies to working on ourselves as children of parents and potential parents of children, she deconstructs the world of species reproduction as we know it.

Understanding that we don’t have an innate aptitude to parent is a concept that’s not easy for everyone to grasp. Yet many people feel unprepared. The good news is that there is hope. There is work we can do on ourselves and skills that we can grow to have lasting impact on generations to come. As it turns out, being a parent and a child of any age is a real job.