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The Digital Life of Teens

Date Published: 30/08/2022

Most teenagers in the 21st century are digital experts. They’re using many different forms of social media, using the internet to research, typing all their notes in class, and emailing their teachers.

Drawing on perspectives from more than 3,500 teens, Harvard Project Zero researchers Emily Weinstein and Carrie James have partnered with Common Sense Education to bring stories and data together for a powerful reframe of what teens are up against – and what teens need adults to understand. These results have been published into a new book, Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (and Adults Are Missing). It is an insightful read for parents and caregivers everywhere looking to help kids navigate our 24/7 connected world. Some of the issues addressed by teens in the book include:

  • Social media
  • Friendships
  • Digital drama and cyberbullying
  • Digital footprints

Common Sense Education have also conducted ‘A Day in Teens’ Digital Lives’ census, which asked two teens to share how they use media every day. The census is part of a national study offering a comprehensive look at how kids aged 8 to 18 use media and technology. Check out the video below:

Although it can feel like adults are missing lots of information regarding teens and technology, there are resources to help navigate these often complex platforms. Through Weinstein and James’ findings, it is clear that both adults and teens are worried about their use of digital technology and screen time. However, becoming more informed can help both adults and teens build connection and learn healthy tech habits everyone can be happy about!

We have several resources in the iCentre that can help adults unpack some of these issues (and more!) and which offer great advice for both parents and teachers in managing our teenagers’ digital use.

The New Teen Age by Dr Ginni Mansberg and Jo Lamble

As both clinicians and parents, Dr Ginni Mansberg and clinical psychologist Jo Lamble know first-hand how challenging it can be to raise adolescents. In The New Teen Age, they team up to address both the physical and psychological issues faced by teens in this new age of social media and 24-hour devices. Issues addressed include:

  • parent-child tensions
  • peer pressure online
  • questions around sleep, exercise, screentime, body image, academic pressure and so much more.

The New Teen Age is a comprehensive guide to raising happy, healthy humans in our rapidly changing world.

Being 14 by Madonna King

Being 14 gives a voice to every teen girl in Australia. Madonna King interviewed 200 14-year-old girls across the country, talked to successful school principals, psychologists, CEOs, police, guidance and neuroscientists to reveal the social, psychological and physical challenges every 14-year-old girl is facing today. Issues discussed include:

  • How much independence do they need?
  • What is the power of a friendship group?
  • How do you help build self-confidence?
  • Why the obsession with selfies, social media and FOMO?
  • How are parents unknowingly making life so much harder for them?

Being 14 offers advice for parents of teenage girls in talking about these issues and provides strategies to help adults and teens work together to navigate this complex time.

Teen Brain by David Gillespie

From Australia’s most trusted non-fiction researcher and author comes the book that every parent needs to read. With their labile and rapidly developing brains, adolescents are particularly susceptible to addiction, and addiction leads to anxiety and depression. Whereas once the dopamine-hungry brain of a teenager got its fix from smoking or drinking, it is now turning to electronic devices for the pleasure jolt that typically comes from playing online games and engaging with social media.

In Teen Brain, David sets out clear, reasonable and effective rules to help you confidently manage your kids’ use of screens at this critical point in their lives.

Generation Alpha

Generation Alpha are the most globally connected generation of children ever. Covering those born between 2010 and 2024, these kids are living through an era of rapid change and a barrage of information – good, bad and fake. For parents, teachers and leaders of Generation Alpha looking for guidance on how to raise their children, worried if their kids are spending too much time on screens, concerned how global trends are impacting them and wondering how to prepare them for a world where they will live longer and work later, this is the book you need.

Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell have interviewed thousands of children, parents, teachers, business leaders, marketers and health professionals to deliver parents and educators everything they need to know about Generation Alpha, including:

  • The significance of technology
  • The future of work and what their future looks like
  • Their consumer habits and their role as influencers
  • The importance of mental and physical wellbeing

Through meticulous research and interviews, Generation Alpha shows us what we all need to know to help this group of children shape their future.

Preparing young people to anticipate and grapple with the personal, ethical, and civic dilemmas that arise in networked life is challenging. Hopefully these resources can help all adults manage these challenges and offer some useful opportunities to open a dialogue with the teenagers in our lives!


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