Tackling Loneliness with tech
Expert tips for parents
As TalkTalk’s Loneliness and Technology report reveals that 41% of parents have never discussed loneliness with teens, we’ve created these tips to help parents support teens on the issue with the help of digital parenting expert Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov.
Tips to help children tackle loneliness with technology
- Encourage teenage children to develop a healthy balance between screen time and face-to-face time doing activities with family and friends.
- Create moments of shared experiences that can be with or without tech, but always shared with others.
- Guide children to use tech in ways that supports their passions, helps them learn new skills and removes barriers to finding their voice, their identity and their community.
- Help teenage children be critical about the relationships they form online through social media
or gaming platforms as bonds made online are not necessarily as real as In-Real-Life relationships.
- It’s important to encourage teenage children to have a good balance between trusted friends on and offline to help them navigate issues that they may face.
- Promote the idea that real connections, even if a few are better than lots of illusory connections.
- Social media can provide meaningful networking where teenage children can connect with, comment on and discuss things with others, but your teenage children should avoid using social media ‘only’ as a substitute for real connections.
- Teenage children may believe that they are truly connected with everyone they have a social media ‘connection’ with, which may lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection if those ‘connections’ do not respond in the same manner.
- Technology can expose teenage children to a vast world of vibrancy and energy where children can scroll feeds or watch videos of other teenage children doing innovative and exciting things
- Encourage teenage children to challenge what they see online to put it into perspective so that they understand that not everyone has a better, more exciting life.
- Help them build their self-esteem by identifying the positive aspects of their own realities.
Scrolling social media feeds, looking for likes or comments, checking emails can be a fun activity, but when those activities border on the obsessive, it might be helpful to change routines.
Suggest new ways for your teenage children to foster friendships offline so that they can engage in different activities and can get involved in diverse communities offline.
Changing routines may help change their perspective. You may want to encourage children to explore the physical world around them, by volunteering for community activities or supporting a cause on or offline. Your teenage children may find like-minded peers with whom they have many things in common, both online and In-Real-Life, thus promoting a real sense of belonging.