The Balancing Act: ‘I Have No Knowledge Of Their Lives On Social Media’
By Sonali Gupta
Every other week, Sonali Gupta draws on more than 10 years of experience as a clinical psychologist to give advice to readers with questions about parenting, family dynamics, relationships, mental health, and more.
Out of The Loop: I’m a parent to children who are 18 years and older. I worry they are addicted to their phones, Instagram accounts and Snapchat. They choose to not be on Facebook as they feel parents would peep. I’m worried that with their own password-protected phones and wifi, they will spend long, erratic hours chatting, shopping. I feel quite frazzled about this, like I have no knowledge about what’s happening in their lives on social media.
Sonali: It is normal for parents to be worried about the threats and risks that come from new technology. At the same time, as young adults, they have a right to their privacy and it needs to be respected. The only way we can build honest relationships with our children is by trusting them. And remember — with trust comes responsibility. In the book, Walking on Eggshells: Navigating The Delicate Relationship Between Adult Children And Parents, author Jane Isay advises parents “to keep their mouth shut and the door open.”
Danah Boyd put it best in her book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teen: “Most teens aren’t addicted to social media; if anything, they’re addicted to each other.” Social media is a way for young adults – at an age when they find the most meaning in relationships and intimate friendships — find connections with other young people.
I suggest your family have an open dialogue about Internet use and social media; you may be surprised to hear that young adults are not only aware of risks such as cyberbullying but also have their own stances on it. Provide an environment in which your young adults can trust their own decision making, learn to adapt after failure and build healthy self-esteem. Listen to them and let them know that you are around if they feel the need to talk.
Too Anxious to Fly: One of my relatives is fearful of flying. He travels often, but still feels scared/nervous about the flight. We worry if it could be an anxiety disorder. Could you suggest some tips or medication to help deal with it?
Sonali: With the little information you have provided, I’m not sure what has triggered the fear of flying, and therefore, feel unable to speak specifically to your relative’s case. There are some techniques that people with aviophobia use when they fly. However, research reveals mixed views on their helpfulness, primarily because no two people with aviophobia are the same. However, some possible techniques to deal with the stress your relative feels are: deep breathing, relaxation, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and learning to manage one’s own anxiety.
As far as the medication is concerned, a psychiatrist is the best judge of whether medication is required. I recommend consulting one to get a clear diagnosis and way forward.