As a counselor, it has been my experience that many kids unbeknownst to parents are suffering emotionally. This appears to be a nation-wide epidemic possible induced by cyber distractions.

The common theme that I see for emotionally distraught kids is often a severed relationship at home, and/or the adults at home are not requiring their children to be an active member of the family.  It is now perfectly acceptable, by society’s standards, to allow kids endless cyber freedom. Unfortunately, too much freedom at too early an age can result in the misuse of technology. Kids can easily isolate themselves in their rooms or elsewhere; it is all too easy for youths to become fully immersed in the virtual world, instead of the real world.

Sadly, social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, KIK, Instagram, FaceTime, Snap Chat, and others are now taking the place of real relationships. Instead of kids fostering bonds and communication with people in real time, their basic skills are being broken down by false communication in the cyber world.  Their ability to communicate, problem solve and emotionally cope with life’s struggles is becoming more and more challenging for them.

The internet poses a particular threat to kids. They can reach out to people they do not know— and who are kids themselves, for very intense emotional support and validation that may be severely lacking in the home. What kids want is someone to listen to them, believe in them, and validate them, and this is what they feel they can get from social media platforms.

Is your kid disconnected from the family? Here are a few questions parents can use to evaluate their situation.

  • Does my child have access to his computer in isolation?
  • Do I know the password to my child’s cell phone?
  • Do I place limitations on my child’s phone/internet access, assigning set hours of the day for cyber use?
  • Do I monitor my child’s text messages?

(A parent should never feel that they are invading their minor child’s privacy by applying rules and limitations to phone and internet use. In all reality, the phone and other devices belong to the parent since the child is not 18 and cannot carry a contract on the phone.)

By Jamie Michelle

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