Researchers in China compared the brain scans of 18 teenagers diagnosed with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) with those of 18 non-addicted teenagers. Differences in white matter density were found in over 20 brain regions. The researchers conclude that their findings show IAD is "characterized by impairment of white matter fibers connecting brain regions involved in emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control".
Teen Dating Advice and Parenting Teens
I don’t know about you, but the thought of my teen losing any more “white matter” connectivity is, well, frightening. As one who is parenting teens, I have many years’ worth of anecdotal evidence that their ability to make decisions, maintain cognitive control and executive attention is already fiber-thin. So how do we apply this to teen dating advice? With regards to brain development, teenagers are not firing on all cylinders at 18 and the last thing they need is one more activity to impair “emotional generation and processing.”
By the age of 16, a dating teenager has a pretty good jumpstart on what it takes to build relationships. He or she has most likely experienced some positive validation, boosted ego and even the thrill of reciprocal flirting. On the flip side, he or she has probably hit the roadblocks of peer pressure, gossip, hurt feelings and maybe even a bit of rejection. This is a tough age for relationship confidence and good teen dating advice is essential. How the “object of their affection” responds to your dating teenager can either build up or tear down their sense of self. When a teen feels like they are number one in someone’s life, they tend to stick to that person like Bondo on a quarter panel. Gazing into each other’s eyes, they profess their undying “like” for one another. The couple will look forward to hanging out by the lockers, sitting together at lunch and meeting up at the football game.
On the other hand, if they are ignored or not feeling valued, it can deflate their self-worth faster than a nail in the tire and subconsciously discourage them from pursuing other relationships, even just as friends.
Teen Dating Advice: Your Teens’ Relationship With Their Computer
When I see a teen that is addicted to the computer, my teen dating advice is that at some point that teenager is in some way escaping the matrix of relationships by tuning out the world. They have become self-absorbed and the driving force of life is often “WIIFM,” “What’s in it for ME?” For those who are parenting teens, it is fundamental to realize the computer for many teens is like a motorcycle with only one seat. It is often meant for only one person and without providing healthy teen dating advice this can easily develop into anti-social behavior. Imagine how your daughter would feel if her boyfriend showed up on a Uno-Cycle instead of a two-seater with no room for her to ride behind him? Or if your son went to his sweetie’s house to sit alone on the couch while she spent endless hours on Facebook? Isolation through technology has become a huge problem for this next generation.
Teen dating advice from those parenting teens should include a gauge for the “white matter connectivity” in all relationships. If a teen nominates their computer for Person of the Year, consider putting an odometer on the screen. Trust this teen dating advice: they are logging hours that will not encourage healthy relationships…unless of course they would prefer to date a PC. Eventually, you hope they will recognize the relationship is incredibly one-sided.
Parenting Teens: Tips for Combating IAD:
· Teen Dating Advice # 1: Limit the miles – Regulate the use of the computer by establishing the hours within which your teen can go online for both social and academic purposes.
· Teen Dating Advice # 2: Park in a safe place – Place the computer in an area of the house that can actively be monitored. Setting your teen up with their own computer in their room can be dangerous and difficult to control!
· Teen Dating Advice # 3: Pull over and stretch your legs! – Those parenting teens should encourage them to get involved in other activities, such as sports, hobbies and social engagements.
· Teen Dating Advice # 4: Operating under the influence – Computer addiction is a way of escaping the realities of a painful world. You may want to try and establish a dialogue with your teen about what they’re going through, whether it’s bullying at school or a tough break-up.
This generation of parents with teens have not been raised with technology so the red flags are more difficult identify. Patterns of detachment and isolation through technology can be disguised as “social outlets” when in reality our teenagers are headed down a deserted one-way street. Good teen dating advice starts with helping our kids develop healthy friendships and interact face-to-face. The computer screen does not qualify for “face time.”
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Remember – safe teen dating does not happen by accident!
Lisa Jander – The Teen Whisperer
In the book Dater’s Ed, Lisa Jander, the Teen-Whisperer, helps parents teach their teenagers to learn how to “date defensively, navigate safely and steer clear of unhealthy relationships.” www.DatersEd.com