Is Your Kid’s Anxiety Caused by Dependence?

The following is based on the information contained in Episode 1 of the Parenting in the Digital Age Podcast.

There are just so many challenges raising kids today. Today’s kids are growing up in a radically different environment than the one we grew up in. Networked electronics are everywhere. School is so demanding. More demanding than when I grew up, that’s for sure.

So many after-school obligations. Both parents working. That’s just scratching the surface.

This new environment is really impacting our kids. And many times in not a great way. Lots of kids are really stressed out and unhappy.

The stats bear this out. Suicide rates among children are up 34% since 2010. And self-injury Emergency Room visits by girls are up 40% in the 5 years between 2010 and 2015.

What exactly’s going on here?

That’s a complex question that requires a lot of digging. The 10,000 foot view of it is that the impact of technology on society has fundamentally changed what it means to be a kid. Or even to be a human for that matter.
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Constant Device Usage Causes Anxiety in Kids

We live in an age where we’re more connected than ever before. This comes with a lot of obvious benefits but it also comes with some rather large negatives.

One of the major negatives is the absence of solitude. We’re rarely, if ever, alone with our thoughts. We never have to experience the “boring” times because there are always more than enough digital distractions to keep our minds constantly occupied.

This problem seems to impact children and teens the most. In his latest book Digital Minimalism, Professor Cal Newport claims rates of anxiety are skyrocketing in children in large part because this generation is even more connected than adults. In fact, many in the youngest generation have never experienced solitude for any length of time and have had electronic distractions nearly every day of their lives.

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Have an Unmotivated Kid? Quit Empathizing So Much.

Why are kids unmotivated? There can be many reasons, but speaking from personal experience I know one cause is what I refer to as parental over-empathy. We’re taught that a loving parent should be willing to do almost anything for a child. This tendency can have a dark side when the desired to protect, care for and love a child goes too far.

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What Steve Jobs Can Teach Kids About Self-Trust

I’m fascinated by artists and entrepreneurs whose visions of what can be had a significant impact on our culture. One of these interesting individuals is Steve Jobs. While I don’t agree with some of the personal choices he made (based on the stories I read in Walter Isaacson’s book and elsewhere),  I really liked his independent spirit.

What does this have to do with parenting? I feel that too often, parents just go along with the expectations of the culture rather than trusting their instincts or the instincts of their children. Remembering a bit of Steve Jobs’ independent thinking can be a helpful antidote.
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