Week's Top Letter #3: Parents play vital role in teenagers' social media exposure

In the age of technology, tools like social media are double-edged swords.
In the age of technology, tools like social media are double-edged swords.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

The incident of five teenagers who were caught hiding in Ikea Tampines beyond the store's opening hours may, at first glance, appear to be a typical act of mischief (5 teens caught for hiding in Ikea Tampines after hours, April 3).

However, we must look beyond this to find the main reason for this behaviour: social media.

According to the report, the five boys were believed to have been inspired by a 24-hour challenge on social media.

Adults may scoff at this foolish challenge as we all perceive it as meaningless and mindless.

However, we must remember that the teenage brain is still developing and learning to discern between right and wrong. The line between black and white is constantly shifting for them.

As a result, teenagers may not be able to make appropriate and correct decisions during their adolescent stage.

Trouble erupts when teenagers, who are easily influenced, are glued to social media almost every day and information, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, reaches them instantly.

Apart from being easily influenced, teenagers also seek acceptance from their peers.

They typically do so by making themselves seem brave; someone whom their friends can all look up to.

Hence, when a challenge like the above-mentioned erupts, they would be more compelled to take it on. This behaviour of seeking acceptance may override a teenager's logical processing, making it harder for him to make wise decisions.

In the age of technology, tools like social media are double-edged swords.

Use it wisely and the user will be rewarded, but abuse it, and the user will be abused by it.

When the developing teenage brain comes into contact with social media, it could be the perfect recipe for trouble. All parents, hence, play an important role.

They must censor, to the best of their ability, inappropriate and dangerous information on the Internet, ensuring that their children come to minimal contact with such material.

They should also not use social media excessively, so as to set an example for their children. They should, hence, exercise self-control on themselves first before doing so on their children.

I am confident that if parents were to be good role models, such incidents would not happen in the future.

Terence Teo Li Yang (Dr)