Some parental worries never change, but today’s parents have even more to worry about than parents just a decade or two ago. A new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which depicts the troublesome events that shape one young teen’s adolescence—and eventually lead to her graphically depicted suicide—is a case in point.
Many have accused the show of effectively romanticizing suicide, and “revenge” suicide in particular. Educators and mental health professionals are chiming in as well, fearing that the depiction and characterization of the show’s suicide could have a “contagion effect,” particularly among young people with mental illness. Netflix defends the programming, saying that they hope the show serves as a “catalyst for conversation.” But whatever adults may think of the show, teens have been flocking to Netflix to watch it.
Talking to your teen remains one of the top recommendations of counselors and mental health experts. Awareness of the real issues potentially affecting your kids—and seeing these complex struggles from an adolescent’s point of view—is critical to rising above them and helping your teen make it the next stage in life.
Obvious harassment can be exacted by the most brazen bullies, but it’s the stealthy manipulators and cyberbullies who often do the greatest damage. You don’t want your kid to be on the receiving end of technological strong-arming, or be the one who’s responsible for exacting it upon others.
Texting is bad enough, especially when each grating ping draws your teen’s attention away from a face-to-face conversation with you. Sexting, however, could be catastrophic for a teen. Whether a racy photo is used as an attention-getting measure sent to the object of their affection, or shared with a fellow teen they care about, the result could be social mortification or even fodder for revenge porn.
Words can’t hurt? Think again. You probably remember the worst things your peers said about you in the teen years, and your child could be feeling the exact same way. Whether there is any truth to the rumors being passed around about your teen, the result can be a shamed, embarrassed, emotionally distressed teen who makes the daily journey to school with a feeling of dread.
4. Body shaming
A Yahoo Beauty survey found that 94 percent of teen females have experienced body shaming (compared to 64 percent of teen males). Having your maturing body scrutinized—a body that you are hardly accustomed to, appreciative of, or confident about—can lead to self-esteem issues and eating disorders.
5. Social media
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and the like are all touted as ways to connect with others. But these platforms can become toxic, serving more as a measure of boosting or tanking a teen’s self-esteem. Social media is all about the likes, and teens who don’t get enough can spiral into a funk. Social media is also, of course, a jumping off point for cyberbullying. One ill-timed comment or regrettable photo can lead to relentless harassment.