Fixing a non-problem with your teenager

In culture on January 19, 2015 at 17:30

‘You are spending too much time on the computer’

It is a sentence which is becoming still more used in modern families.

Are there some days where parents’ wishes that they should be handling old-times problems like when they were kids and alcohol and teenage pregnancies where the problems?

Fact is that a lot of countries have moved jobs from manual labor to electronic long-distance work done over the computer. In a country like Denmark every third job in the industry is gone. In Denmark you are forced to conduct almost every kind of communication with the public sector over the Internet.

In 2014 the government forced every Dane aged 15 or above to establish a secure email-account in their system where every kind of information (taxes, school-papers, pension etc.) would be sent to the individual citizen. No snail-mail would be sent in the future. Relatives of retired people who had never been trained using a computer were recommended to get power of attorney to read their mails or help them getting the training which was offered for free by the city administration.

So why is it a problem if the kids use all their time on the computer? Even school is now offered long-distance for those children who fits badly into a traditional class-setting or are ill-equipped to function socially?

Because some people invented the diagnose “Internet Addiction Disorder” in order to attract clients now there the percentage of teenagers who acts out due to crime, alcohol or drugs are a record low!

There will always be something parents worry about and the professionals selling residential treatment programs know that.

I saw an article in The Telegraph about the Chinese boot camp industry. Parents confine their children to a boot camp like environment and if they survive the stay (several have already been killed) they return home to the same environment and fail because the modern life requires them to use computers and can return for yet another stay in the boot camp.

As the twenty-two-year-old Li Wenchao who is a repeat patient is quoted to have been said:

‘I am afraid to go back to a normal life,’

‘I fear I will become addicted again. That is why I have asked to stay longer, until I develop enough confidence to deal with life’.

To deal with life!

But that is the problem. Life is not inside the camp. Life is on the outside. Life is conducted of the terms which we give our youth.

It reminds me about the very popular boarding schools in Denmark called “Efterskole”. The students like them. In fact they return home with a boosted self-confidence. Some months later many suffer from depression-like symptoms. They face difficulties to the new life outside the boarding school.

What is the problem?

The answer is that they have confined themselves to a positive group orientated world where the speed is four times the speed outside the boarding school. They have been part of a group bound together so tight that they resemble a religious church movement.

We have all been taught what happens when you are kicked out of such a group. People are shunned. The former boarding school students feel it like this not because they are unwanted. No at the boarding school they had almost no private life. They were forced into a group in a positive way and they slowly lost the ability to function isolated as most teenagers do alone in their room with their laptop connected to the world listening to music and communicating with friends over social networks.

Of course you end up depressed if you have been around people and suddenly have to learn to be alone again. The very same happens to the teenagers in the Chinese boot camp. Inside the boot camp everything is done off-line. The world outside is online. They cannot prepare their students in a proper way. The entire investment turns out to be a failure.

Fixing a non-problem regarding your teenager can end up being a deadly experience for the teenager. That is one risk. The other risk is that your teenager will have to live with the consequences of having been kicked out of the normal daily life for a period. Worst case scenario is suicide. Best case scenario is a life filled with therapy and mentors to learn how to live normally.



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