There are days I used to feel sorry for my son; I have one boy; now age 20. Obviously he has grown up in the age of personal technology. I do my best to embrace it (like take courses to expand my reach and understanding) but he has pretty much lived and breathed it from the time he was just a little snapper.
Whilst he was little I monitored what he did online, limited exposure and explained the dangers of Social Media. I parented around it – mostly keeping him so busy with sports that he fell asleep nice and early with little time to engage online. To the best of my knowledge he didn’t get himself into too much trouble and he was not at the butt end of trouble either.
It was my husbands and my dream to live in the country so we did it, we uprooted the kid and moved to the country – the boy was age 14. He was onboard for the move, super excited as he loved the outdoors. He was excited to do things like get an ATV. The honeymoon wore off quickly.
For us the peaceful living was exactly what we expected it to be – amazing.
For the boy it was a nightmare.
He was used to city life, the school next door – countless friends on the street to these guys being our closest neighbor. My husband and I did as good of a job as we could; getting him into town for visits, and of course we kept up with the sporting events. That Social aspect, that instant connection with peers for him was gone. That walk out on the street and see a buddy was gone. He was a lonely kid.
For a while he was sad then I noticed that the cell phone/IPad/ computer/ Xbox were in use a lot more. The text messages were flying, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, were being used more and more. I was worried, what was wrong with him? Why didn’t he want to see his friends? When I was a kid I was always trying to get my parents to drive me somewhere, to do something. He stopped asking me for drives to town, declined events and invites. Our main concern was that he was not social, that he was shutting himself off from the world and avoiding people. I had so many questions, was he ok?
Since then I have learned – Boy was I wrong.
While I was upstairs worrying about him having no friends, no social life… he was downstairs (in his little domain) having a great time. He was socializing and talking to people all the time. His peers found him, just not in person. They found him online and they engaged with him. He was no longer lonely; in fact there were times he admits now that he is older he had too much on the go. Who knew?
What I needed to understand as a parent was that kids don’t do things the same anymore. A lot of what they do is online, not in person and while that is not how I would do things, it is ok. My needs are not the same as his. While he is playing his Xbox games (appearing to be alone) he is talking to a group of friends that are all doing the same thing at home. Relief.
Obviously things are different now; he is 20 and lives on his own while at University (note: with friends). He sublets his place and comes home in the summer to stay with us. I feel the need to tell you, if he is not at work, or with us he is probably downstairs using some form of social media and that is OK with me.
This story is mine. I am sure every experience will be different; I want to encourage you to talk to someone if you are lonely – reach out. There is help waiting for you.
for Kids help line click here
If you feel lost and alone click here
Online access is not enough for everyone so I would also encourage all parents to open a discussion with their children, make sure they are getting what they need socially. Everyone’s needs are different!
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Twitter #lonely #teenager click here to understand becoming UNsocially social https://bit.ly/2tguCSp