By Azalea Tewhenua.
Image via Mayhem Mamma
Children growing up too fast is becoming a common problem. Studies have confirmed what most of us already suspected: kids are maturing much faster and parents feel the internet and social media are to blame.
Much of this concern is focused on television, film, and social media and the impact these mediums have on our youth. These factors negatively affect childhood by sorting children into boxes and pushing kids towards a grown-up world that they do not have the mentality to handle, often creating mental health problems later in life. “Our society is compressing childhood more and more to where children are not children for very long,” child psychologist David Elkind writes.
There is so much pressure put on youth to behave in certain ways. The need to fit in with peers is a prime obsession for the children of today. The idea of being out of place panics many children causing them to follow the latest trends, not out of true desire to- but out fear that if they don’t they will be left behind. There is even specialised marketing targeting teens on social media, keeping children up to date with the latest trends to follow.
Image via Life Hacker
Social media has so much influence on today’s youth, and while a lot of it is positive, there are negatives attached to it as well. Social media is now used in many workplaces, universities and even some schools for research purposes and ease of communication, allows youth to keep up with the latest news, and can even provide job opportunities. The negatives of social media include social detriments (bullying for example), false information, and being plugged into an online world where you are surrounded by a constant stream of advertising. The maturity levels of children rise as they are exposed to all kinds of content that allow them to act or appear in similar ways to what is advertised, which is often far older than what they actually are.
Another factor influencing maturity at a young age would be the pressure to compete. Huge importance is placed on academic achievement, more so than ever before, which can cause children to feel pushed with schoolwork to the point where they forget to have fun, play, and be kids. Higher academic achievements can also cause kids knowing too much for their age and being aware of the darker aspects in the world before they are mentally prepared to handle it. Children also feel the need to compete with each other when it comes to appearance. Fashion trends need to be kept up with in order to prevent being left out. Not only are children competing with one another, the competitive adult world is also invading childhood.
Adults expect a lot from their children causing them to live lives filled with stress. Parents can expect too much from their children, such as participation in sport and activities out of school hours on top of homework and studying, leaving many kids with zero time to have fun or even to socialise with other children outside of school or sport.
There are many reasons why children shouldn’t be rushed into growing up too early. Without a long enough childhood, children do not get the opportunity to learn many important relationship and life skills. For example, a huge component of childhood is being able to spend time around peers. This is very important, as it gives children the ability to learn about themselves, to create and to innovate, and to learn how to make their own individual judgments. They learn how to work with others and build up confidence when it comes to communicating with new people. Children who aren’t given the chance to refine these skills may develop severe stress, social anxiety, and depression which can result in social and behavioural problems.
Childhood is a time to be mastering what children are best at doing. Making friends, having fun, and learning new life skills. Children who speed through their childhood simply miss out the pleasures of growing up, innocent fun and happy experiences that they can look back on when they are adults.
Image via Metamora Films
It is key to live as a child while you can before life gets real.