The new toy of the modern teen is not the bike or piano; it's the computer.

The Effects of Changing Technology on Teenagers

by Damon Verial

The world has changed with technology, sparing almost no aspect of life, including the teen world. As technology changes, so does how your teen views, engages with and relates to the world. Technology, despite its uses, brings an unwieldy power to the hands of not-so-adult children. Parents of teens are logically worried, but understanding the facts and using proper supervision can keep your teen safe from the handful of threats that changing technology brings.

1. Technology and the Family

Perhaps the most striking effect of changing technology on the teen is that which the family can see: texting at the dinner table, weekend nights spent hidden away in front of a computer and online gaming replacing outdoor activities. As you might suspect, these activities do little to strengthen family bonds and instead, do much to hurt them. According to Kimberly Young, author of the book “Caught in the Net,” teens use technology as a way of avoiding problems, including family problems. So, instead of dealing with an issue in the family head-first, modern teens often open their laptops or flip out the cell phones.

2. Changes in Communication

While you can’t say the same for younger children, teens go to school primarily to prepare themselves to enter society. After graduating high school, teens often enter college or the job force, two areas in which communication is integral. But technology can stunt the growth of a teen's communication skills. According to Adnan Omar, co-author of the journal article “Impact of Technology on Teens’ Written Language,” technology-based communication is detrimental to a teen's written communication skills. As Omar points out, today’s teens are following the changes in technology by writing more informally, using fewer words and relying on emoticons to represent emotions. Teens who rely on such methods may be disappointed to find that such techniques are not suitable in the real world.

3. A New Addiction

Technology can be addictive. A teen who finds a fun phone application or online game might dabble at first, but modern technology gives teens a dopamine release not unlike that of certain chemical substances. Dabbling can become an obsession, and an obsession can become an addiction. Technology is a new form addiction in society and is something parents need to look out for. Worse, the changing face of technology makes it increasingly addictive as it becomes more ever-present and engaging. Young, in her book “Internet Addiction,” points out how technology is impacting the teen demographic, with five out of every 100 teens experiencing a clinical addiction to technology. Parents who find their teens spending egregious amounts of time online would benefit from supervising the technology use.

4. New Ways to Find Oneself

Teens often struggle on the journey to self-discovery. Teens of the past would jump from clique to clique or take up new hobbies to explore different aspects of the self. Today’s teens do the same, but they do much of it through technology. Technology’s ability to allow teens from one part of the city, state, country or globe to contact those in another brings like-minded teens together. The result is new niches being carved out, allowing teens who were outcasts decades ago to form social groups. Today, the Internet provides social media groups and forums dedicated to nearly any hobby, topic or thought. Teens who wish to discuss computer science instead of gossip can now do so. But at the same time, obese teens can just as easily find support online as anorexic teens can, which hides a downside: Teens who should be getting support from professional sources are increasingly going online to find support in a community of peers, which can prove risky.

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