While your child is in his teens, the odds are that he will choose his friends over the family when it comes to social interactions. This is a completely normal progression which means that your child’s social world is likely to expand, and may include interactions with a large group (or several gangs) of children and members of the opposite sex.
According to experts at the University of Maryland Medical Center, teens can use relationships and interactions with their peers as ways to find a home for their feelings and ideas. A close group of friends can act almost like a second family, sometimes more understandable, in which a teenager can rely, get support and guidance. Instead of feeling afraid to bring a new idea, or a serious problem like teen pregnancy to a parent, young people can find security in close interactions with friends.
The years of adolescence mark the beginning of romantic relationships for many young people. Unlike previous years, when the opposite sex seemed to be “unpleasant” or annoying, puberty marks the beginning of the appearance of romantic or sexual feelings. This may mean that your once little effeminate daughter may begin to smile sweetly around the neighborhood kids or that your seemingly confident son becomes shy and nervous around a pretty girl. As your child becomes a teenager and begins to take an interest in the opposite sex, an open discussion begins about sexuality, including saying no, abstinence, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, and the side emotional of romantic relationships.
With the rise in the use of cell phones and social networks (according to Pew Research Center statistics), 64 percent of teenagers create content online on social networks and similar sites. Many interactions between adolescents occur over the Internet. Among texts, social media forums and other online resources, teenagers often socialize, talk with friends and make plans in a more digital way. If your child uses a website, email, texts or chat rooms, you have to monitor their use of the media. Discuss security issues on the Internet such as not posting personal information, avoiding “friendships” with teenagers you do not know, and the effects of cyberbullying.
Sometimes adolescent interactions become more of a dynamic group than couples. Interacting with other teenagers in a gang can have benefits for a young person, since he spends his leisure time with colleagues of the same mentality. Gangs can be formed by shared interests, such as playing basketball for the school team, and can help your child feel that he or she belongs in the society of their school. On the other hand, gangs can also negatively affect adolescent interactions. The exclusion of a gang can isolate and cause emotional discomfort.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Adolescent Development
- Healthy Children: Teen Love Connection
- Pew Research Center: Teens and Social Media (Teens and social networks)
- KidsHealth: Internet Safety (Internet Safety)
- KidsHealth: Helping Kids Cope With Cliques (Help children overcome gangs)