As teenagers navigate their way to adulthood, they are often surrounded by friends, immersed in education and activities, and finding out more and more about how they relate to the world around them. Even if your teen seems busy, it is very possible that they could be experiencing feelings of loneliness as they develop and grow.
According to Focus on the Family, a decade ago, only 10 percent of people indicated that they experienced loneliness. Today, however, that figure has doubled. Teens who are lonely are especially susceptible to developing mental health issues such as depression.
Even teens who are healthy and happy can be prone to bouts of loneliness, so teaching your teen good habits can help them cope with feelings of loneliness they might experience as they mature. As a parent, it is important to know how you can help your teen live a life that is less lonely.
- Limit screen time.
Technology advancements over the past 10 years have vastly changed how people communicate with one another. Much of the interaction that used to occur personally or face-to-face has now moved to digital mediums such as social media, email, instant messaging, and texting. While these methods help to speed up communication, they also make it much more cold, distant, and impersonal. In fact, according to research published by the US National Library of Medicine, excessive screen time was found to be a precursor to depression, isolation, and obesity in adolescents.
As a parent of a teen, it is important that you teach your teen the value of both digital and face-to-face interactions, and make sure they are connecting to others in personal, meaningful ways. Personal human connection is important to feeling present and valued, so it helps combat the isolation and loneliness that digital communication can often create.
- Plan fun, engaging family activities.
A great way to help your teen feel inclusion and acceptance is to spend quality time together at home as a family. Planning activities that foster personal interaction and fun, can help alleviate boredom and increase your bond as a family. Some great ideas for family activities are board games, cooking dinner together, or going on an evening stroll around the neighborhood.
- Encourage healthy interaction with friends.
As a parent of a teenager, you can help shape your teen’s social skills as they emerge and develop, and one of the most important things you can do to help combat loneliness is to encourage healthy friendships. Friends play a very large role in happiness of teens, and according to the Global Post, friendships helps teens in the following ways:
- Friendships help teens feel accepted and confident
- Friendships provide teens with trustworthy confidants
- Friendships support healthy fun, excitement, and interaction
- Through friendships, teens can have a positive influence on one another
- Teach the difference between spending time alone, and being lonely.
Helping your teen become comfortable with moments of silence, reflection, and solitude can help them understand the difference between spending time alone, and being lonely. Encouraging quiet time for reading, drawing, or writing will help your teen find pleasure in spending time alone, and teach them that these activities can be fun, relaxing, and rewarding. Understanding this important distinction will ultimately help your teen know how to better handle any feelings of loneliness that they encounter.
If you are concerned that your teen is experiencing loneliness often, and it is impacting their behavior, health, and happiness, then seeking out the guidance of a professional counselor who specializes in teen loneliness and depression can help equip you and your teen with more tools to lead a happy, full life.