Teenage is a difficult time to deal with and the current situation of lockdown makes it even harder. The revelation about the Bois Locker Room and the Gurgaon teen committing suicide, are cases indicating that not just domestic violence and child abuse but the mental health issues urban teenagers experience requires immediate attention. We need to ask important questions, find workable solutions and consider this a real problem that must be addressed. What made the 17 year old boy so vulnerable that he decided to take his life? Why did he feel so cornered and hopeless that the easiest thing for him to jump from the 11th floor? Why couldn’t he ask for help? Why couldn’t someone reach out to him before it was too late? Why has social media taken over our lives so intensely?
There is no denying that lockdown has heightened our anxieties, we are all playing a part in a big psychological experiment by staying cut off from the outside world. The unsettling feeling and anxiety are part and parcel of our daily lives now. As much as adults are thinking of pay cuts and job losses teenagers and young adults are also grappling with this new reality of getting stuck with parents who are often not their best friends. Teens are unreasonable, they push for autonomy, they do not enjoy forced family time. But then that is what adolescence is all about? Isn’t it? It is like walking on a double-edged sword. It is the time in life when we need handholding even if that is the very thing we detest.
As much as adults are thinking of pay cuts and job losses teenagers and young adults are also grappling with this new reality of getting stuck with parents who are often not their best friends.
“Social media made my brother a rapist overnight because that girl wrote that he did something which he did not. He was not proven guilty and he was not a rapist and I urge everyone to stop calling him that”, Rishi who is reportedly the brother of the teenager who committed suicide in Gurugram wrote in an Instagram post defending his deceased brother. What transpired between the two teenagers is unknown. But Rishi rightly points at the power social media has over our lives. With social media, you are never out of reach. Teenagers have a much more intense relationship with technology than adults, they spend most of their days messaging, sharing, scrolling and perhaps trolling. You cannot monitor a teens social media exposure like you can monitor a toddler’s screen time. There is a greater need for parents and adults to talk about responsible sharing.
“Defamation on social media can be harmful to the mental health of people and we as a family stand proof of how devastating a mere story on Instagram can be. People should realise the repercussions of their actions. It is very well said that with great power comes great responsibility and people on social media should realise this”, the boy’s post adds. I am not siding with any of the kids here but there also a need here to talk about whether our online identities are giving us the liberty to say things which we would not contemplate saying to people in person? As much as there is a need to talk about consent and boundaries to boys in a relationship, girls also need to know it is not ok to disgrace someone because of a disagreement. You cannot put someone down to make yourself feel better. There is always scope for conversation before you decide to go public.
You cannot monitor a teens social media exposure like you can monitor a toddler’s screen time. There is a greater need for parents and adults to talk about responsible sharing.
For adults, in the light of these events, there is a greater need to acknowledge that everyone one of us is feeling uncertainty. We need to tell our kids that we are available to help them out or talk about their day. It is and always will be in our hands to stop our kids from turning to the internet to look for a solution to their problems.
The views expressed are the author’s own.