The importance of security in young teenage boys and girls

classphoto courtesy of ctsnowBy Guest Author Samantha Krause

I have often seen other people who do not have close relationships with their peers as weird, or just not sociable. However, it seems having a close relationship with my parents has strengthened my own, personal ability to have stronger relationships with my friends than others. We often do not think about how a person’s relationships at home can affect other relationships and aspects of that person.

In a survey of 223 sixth graders (109 girls) Dwyer and colleagues assessed their attachment, ability to adapt socially, and friendship quality off three basic tests in which they took in pairs:

  • Security Scale: the amount of security the child feels based on their own relationships with their parents at home.
  • Attributions and Coping Questionnaire: giving something/someone (in this case, the child’s friends) a reason for acting the way they do, and then deciding how to deal with the given situation.
  • Friendship Quality Questionnaire: evaluating the relationships the child shares with his/her close friends.

The results indicate that children with higher levels of security at home with their mother and father likely felt higher levels of security within their relationships with friends. Having high levels of security in the home also improved the reported self-esteem and self-confidence in a child, enabling them to be stronger individuals later in life.  If they had a low level of security, they reported feeling sad and had a harder time building and sustaining lasting, strong relationships. Lower levels of security often lead to a greater chance that the child would develop negative coping strategies, such as revenge, emotional responses, and avoidance all together.

So, parents should try to create a positive chemistry in the house and raise their children in such a way that they feel a strong security in their relationships with their mother and father. Mother’s and the father’s should have individual relationships with their children. Since boys and girls react differently to each relationship, the importance of having a strong relationship and security with both parents individually is crucial. The stronger these relationships are the more likely the child will thrive in their other relationships as they get older. S/he will have a more balanced social life, as well as a healthy psychological well-being.

Dwyer, K., Fredstrom, B., Rubin, K., Booth-LaForce, C., Rose-Krasnor, L., Burgess, K. (2010). Attachment, social information processing, and friendship quality of early adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Social & Personal Relationships, 27, 91-116.

Are Teens Hiding Behind The Screen?

By Guest Author Jonathan Nielsen

picture of doll sitting in empty stadium“R U 4 real?” The use of phrases like this demonstrate how technology has managed to merge itself with the social life of teenagers in the form of instant messaging, text messaging and social networking sites such as Facebook. A little observation will tell anyone that a large percentage of a teen’s time is spent texting on his or her phone or chatting online. With so much time devoted to these activities, researchers want to know if there are any side effects.

Pierce set out to examine the effects that teen usage of these technologies might have on their social life. She conducted a study that sought to determine if there was a relationship between recent social technologies and shyness among teenagers. In the study, 280 teenagers answered survey questions regarding how much time they spend on socially interactive technologies such as text messaging, instant messaging, and social networking sites. In addition to finding out how much time teenagers spent on these technologies, the survey also asked questions regarding each teen’s feelings toward face-to-face communication.

The results revealed a clear connection between social introversion and the socially interactive technologies. Those who disliked personal communication were more likely to use socially interactive technologies. This suggests that these new technologies are providing shy individuals with a comfortable means of communication, while replacing any opportunities that these individuals may have had to get over their timidity by practicing face-to-face communication. Lastly, the author concludes that since these technologies are relatively new, society has yet to discover all of the possible consequences.

With the results of this study in mind, it is crucial for teens to evaluate their personal use of these technologies. Do they substitute personal time with friends for time on Facebook? Do they text their friends more than they call them? Are they using these technologies as a way to avoid their social anxieties? As foreign as these problems may be to parents and teachers, the answers to these questions are important to a teen’s future success in life. Face-to-face communication is vital in the workplace, and many teenagers may not be properly developing the necessary interpersonal skills; therefore, these questions must not be avoided. All of this is to say that teenagers must come to realize that they are an experimental generation– No other generation has grown up using these social technologies, and the consequences of these technologies are poorly known.

Pierce, T. (2009). Social anxiety and technology: Face-to-face communication versus technological communication among teens. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 1367-1372.

Texting While Driving as a Pre-Meditated Act

Texting while driving image of a road From DQMountaingirlAs any Oprah watcher can tell you, texting while driving is a problem. We can make it illegal (it is in a majority of States), but that doesn’t necessarily eliminate what to many still seems like an innocuous act. A coinciding approach involves looking at the reasons people engage in the behavior, and engaging motivations by starting with intentions. Nemme and White took this approach, a variation of the Theory of Planned Behavior, in their study of 17-24 year-old Australian students.

They looked at five factors that contributed to intention to text while driving:

  1. Attitude towards texting
  2. Subjective norm, or the person’s perceptions about how others feel about texting while driving
  3. Past behavior
  4. Group Norm, or if the people they know read or send text messages while driving
  5. Moral Norm, or if the person feels it is a right or wrong action

Following the theory of planned behavior, these factors lead to intention, which then leads to behavior (measured a week later as both sending and receiving texts). Perceived behavioral control, or how much control the person feels she/he has over his/her behaviors, also influences both intention and behavior.

They found that 1) attitude predicted intentions to send and read, 2) subjective norm and perceived behavior control predicted sending but not reading, 4) past behavior is the strongest predictor of intentions and behavior, and 4) adding group norms and moral norms (an addition to the Theory of Planned Behavior) strengthened the model they posited in the paper.

Ultimately, one of the best ways to deter people involves stressing that driving while texting is a shameful behavior, and that your friends do not do it, nor do they approve of it. Think of how you never thought a thing of one-time-only usage bags for your groceries, until you realized you were one of the only people who didn’t bring their own. Others retain a large hold on our behaviors even though we would like to think we left this behind long-ago in high school.

Nemme, H. E., & White, K. M. (2010). Texting while driving: Psychosocial influences on young people’s texting intentions and behavior. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 42, 1257-1265.

How adolescents use fast-paced communication to form relationships

By Guest Author Katie Weltner

From Marc_Smith's photostream via Flickr

Technology affects children at increasingly younger ages, and I have often wondered at how immediate and constant interaction alters the formation and maintenance of friendships, and how their friendships will differ from the older, more traditional (re: face-to-face) way of communicating.

Three Indiana University professors studied 40 seventh grade students (ages 11-13) to see if the students created more, but weaker relationships, and to learn the extent that technological communication was valuable for less social students. With the abundance of online friendship networks, it seems plausible that many students would communicate more often with less-close friends, yet this data indicates otherwise.

They write that the number of relationships students identified as “close” showed “no significant difference in relational intensity” as with the number of friends with whom the students communicated through socially interactive technologies (SITs), meaning the students did not have more friends online than offline. However, the study also found that the 10% of students who said they had “few” or “no” close friends used SITs to communicate with acquaintances, as opposed to close friends. This divergence can possibly be explained through an understanding that the majority of students hold “in-depth” conversations, presumably with closer friends, in person or on the telephone. Additionally, with friends identified as “close”, many students only used SITs as basic maintenance and making plans.

Ultimately, all relationships differ. Some students with strong friendships rarely communicate with SITs, while others often do, and the students used “different SITs with different friends.” One aspect of this is that many of these students only had access to one SIT, while others had access to none, which would alter the form of communication with both players in the friendship. In addition, some relationships simply may be stronger through certain modes of communication than others.

Since 2006 when this article was published,  the usage of IMing has increased. What has not possibly changed? In this article nearly all communication through SITs was between those the students who had met before, and that the students were not using the internet to develop new friendships, a trend I hope will continue.

One of the interesting things to note about the technological world is the abundance of accessible information. Websites such as Facebook allow friends, acquaintances and complete strangers to see equal amounts of information about the user. Acquaintances can suddenly learn a surprising deal about someone they just met, and can instantly judge whether or not to pursue the relationship. This instantaneous selection process can affect the way children learn to deal with bad situations and relationships in their lives. For those primarily developed before the rush of technological communication, it is important to note how a slightly younger generation will relate to those around them throughout their entire lives.

Bryant, J., Sanders-Jackson, A., & Smallwood, A. (2006). IMing, text messaging, and adolescent social networks. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, 577-592.