It is that time of year when the weather starts to break and another winter will soon be behind us. It has been a wonderful school year at Tri-Valley, and I look forward to wrapping it up with Commencement on Friday, May 25th at Jack Anderson Stadium.
One of the more troubling issues this school year for me has been to see the number of young people in the area that have taken their own lives. It seems as if in almost every instance of teen suicide, our first instinct is to try to pinpoint exactly why a young person would make such a drastic decision. Well, I feel compelled to point out that the lives of young people have changed very drastically in the last 10-15 years. While there is a lot of talk about bullying, it is not a new issue. Young people have had struggles with bullying as far back as anyone can remember, and it is very rare that this issue ever lead to the taking of one’s own life… until recently.
In addition to being surrounded by young people at Tri-Valley on a regular basis, I am also the father of six children. I have personally witnessed the increasing role of social media in young people’s lives and I have formed a strong opinion about young people and their exposure to the barrage of Twitter, Instagram, Snap-Chat, Facebook, etc… More recently, I have seen the merging of social media with online video gaming that is currently sweeping the nation. Any parent of a 10-18 year old today has likely been exposed to Fortnite and/or PubG. If you have not… ask your kids about it!
Many adults cannot seem to remove themselves from constant notifications and updates on their phones, but for young people these notifications have taken on an even larger role. These constant interactions with peers have completely hijacked what use to be a sanctuary for most children… their homes. They have no escape anymore from the comments nor the pressure of being in an environment where their peers have access to them 24/7. Whether it be on their telephone, home computer, or gaming console… there is constant pressure upon them to comment, respond, or post details from their own personal lives to their peers.
Children need a sanctuary. They need a resting place where they are loved, comforted, and where they interact only with those that love and care for them. When this sanctuary no longer exists, they have no place to escape the constant pressure of their peers. Perhaps we as parents, need to reconsider the amount of time our children have access to their peers… and take some responsibility for giving them a break when they are at home.