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  • Writer's picturePracchi Sachdev

Smartphones, WhatsApp, Social Media: Helping Teens Cope Up with Digital Worlds Ever Growing Pressure

The world that was once vast and invincible has now shrunk to our fingertips. Every day, we make advances in new technological gadgets. Smartphones are becoming more of an irreplaceable luxury than a necessity. If, as adults, we cannot manage and balance the time that we spend on social media, then how are we going to stop our kids from following in our footsteps? It’s sad to see what this generation is passing on to the youth as an inheritance. We are losing our right to privacy. You never know at what moment you may be captured secretly on someone’s phone. And next, you realize that you are all over the internet.

See, that’s the plight of your parents these days. You’ll find us glued to our phones, as most of the work has now shifted to the comfort of our homes. But kiddo, you have a choice. You don’t have to fit into our shoes. You can make the best use of technology without getting addicted to it. Our generation started with a pager at your age. And the gadgets have evolved dramatically, from landlines to pagers to mobile phones to smartphones. We kept adapting to new inventions but lost our peace of mind. And honestly, most of us regret losing the better side of life that was lived offline.

smartphones, whatsapp and social media ever-growing pressure
Teenagers spend more time on smartphones & social media and the fear of missing out creates pressure to stay online

You Can't Seem to Stay Away From Your Smartphones, WhatsApp & Social Media: Set Some Ground Rules

If you still choose to stick with your smartphones, the most important point to note is that you should have some ground rules for their usage. Like,

  • Set aside time to check your WhatsApp messages or scroll through Snapchat/Instagram.

  • Select one or two social media platforms to stay connected with your school friends or neighbourhood friends. More options of being online can consume all your time and leave you mentally and emotionally exhausted.

  • Don’t carry your phones everywhere. At least, not to the washrooms. Pee or poop in silence. Believe me, you can breathe without it. And you will live through that separation.

  • Remind yourself, that the phone is a necessity, not a luxury. This mindset will set you free from becoming a slave to your expensive gadget.

Okay, I know, I know, it’s hard for you both to part ways, but someday you’ll have to do it. The sooner, the better.

Anyway, coming back to the world you see online, It is sometimes as scary as the offline world. So a little precaution doesn’t hurt anyone. Right? Or am I right? Firstly, always set your privacy options so that strangers cannot intrude on your online space. Secondly, never share anything personal with anyone on any social media platforms. You are still a kid, ya, ya teenager, but not entirely an adult. So mind what you post online—pictures and content. Thirdly, do not believe everything you see on social media. People always put their best foot forward; remember that. Social media life is like reel life. It is usually far from reality. And lastly, and most importantly, if you feel forced to be online all the time because of peer pressure, it’s a sign to stop being a part of this rat race immediately. Once again, review and, if the need be, change your company. Anything that takes your focus away and ruins your peace of mind is not worthy of your time.

Digital World Vs Reality and The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

We've all experienced the strange emotional rollercoaster that occurs when we see pictures and posts of our friends and strangers dressed up and cheerfully partying and enjoying life. It can often lead to feelings of frustration, depression, and anxiety. Because all we see are the beautiful, successful, and happy lives of lovey-dovey people, while our lives seem to be filled with mundane affairs and monotony. Believe me, there is an ugly side to these people’s lives too that no one wants to show to the world. There is not a single person on earth who has a perfect life. So, if you see something that's nearly perfect, know that it’s not real.

social media and its ever-growing pressure
Children spend time on gadgets and forget that there is a world beyond digital life

Oh! I can see your mind racing with questions. If I don’t use WhatsApp, how will I stay connected with my friends? Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook (of course, there are many more, but I do not know each one of them) are cool platforms to hang out with my friends. And Twitter is one way to make myself seen and heard. The day I stop being seen online, everyone will forget me! You're afraid? You have FOMO (fear of missing out on everything) and the fear of being overlooked by others. So you decide to do as your friends are doing. You become so involved in your smartphones that you forget there is a life beyond gadgets. Before you know it, you're addicted to your phone.

What can you do to maintain a healthy relationship with your social media?

  • Be present on only one or two social media platforms to stay connected with your peer groups.

  • Don’t check each platform for updates every few minutes. If there is an earthquake, either you’ll be a part of it or it happened too far away from you to be concerned. So relax, the world is not going to turn upside down while you were busy eating your meal, or you were in the shower.

  • Switch off your phone (I doubt anyone of you would, but I will still not stop hoping) at 10 every night. You have only been here 13+ few years, (okay dads if you are the one reading this, 40+ years) there is still a lot you haven’t seen or achieved in life. Learn to switch yourself off from the world so that you can focus on your inner world and your future goals.

  • This is a serious one, and I mean it. Always keep your phones on silent mode when having dinner with your family, friends, or at a party or gathering. First, it is disrespectful to use the phone when you are face-to-face with other humans. And second, good food, laughter, giggles, and healthy communication help people strengthen their bonds.

  • This one is especially for adults, phone calls when driving is a deadly combination. People are waiting for you at home. Do not disappoint them with your stupid actions.

  • And lastly, you don’t have to tell the world everything you are doing or every place you are visiting. Some people, places, and moments are only to be loved and cherished without showing them off to the world.

The times we are living in now have two worlds working simultaneously: the real world and the virtual world. The sad truth is that people have forgotten that there is a world beyond smartphones. Children today don’t know what boredom is, and so the creativity of our kids has diminished as compared to the ones who are still not introduced to smartphones. We like to keep our minds occupied with the latest happenings on the small screens in our hands, but we do not want to look up and see what is going on in our surroundings.

As an experienced adult, I have seen the world changing from no mobiles to using smartphones. A gentle reminder to the young generation that the real world should not suffer at the hands of the virtual one. And to assure this, I would advise setting time limits on all electronic devices. The younger the child, the stricter the limit, or else the temptation is just too strong to curb. Nevertheless, as a teenager, it is your responsibility to monitor yourself. In the end, it is your life, and you always have a choice.

I attempted to keep it less gyan and more practical. I'm hoping I succeeded, and yes, you can chill! Our generation survived our childhood without mobiles, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. Yours can, too!

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