Be more understanding of teens' late-night habits

Parents often wonder why their teenage children hang out at public places late into the night.

Having recently interviewed teens and young adults between 13 and 25 years old, as part of research for an academic paper, I have found that these young people are occupied late at night with studies and homework, reading, listening to music, chatting with friends, gaming or updating social media.

My interviewees said their parents would wait for them to return, "forcing" them to leave their friends early. They also said that their parents get worried and vent their frustrations on them.

This contributes to troubles and misunderstandings with parents, and not having quality time with them.

The young people suggested ways to build "good fences" with their family despite staying out late.

These include spending quality time with their parents, finding a balance between their friends and family, and communicating with their parents to build trust.

Freedom is important to teens. They want personal space and time, as well as the ability to make their own choices.

Various neurobiological, hormonal, environmental and social factors also contribute to changes in the sleeping pattern of adolescents.

Staying out late has always had a negative connotation. So it is natural for parents to be concerned. But there could be many reasons why teens choose the streets instead of their beds.

Parents should have a chat with their teens and find out about their changes and challenges. They wish to be heard and understood too.

Vickineswarie Jagadharan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'Be more understanding of teens' late-night habits'. Print Edition | Subscribe