The Scary Truth About How We Are Hurting Our Children

The Scary Truth About How We Are Hurting Our Children


In the past week, I’ve read several studies that are scary to me… it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids.   We all know that what our kids hear becomes their inner voice, but it’s hard to control what they hear from others, isn’t it?


CNN recently interviewed Dr. Jean Twenge, author of iGen and her interview worried me – because I saw the truth that I would be facing in just a few short years.   Dr. Twenge started doing research 25 years ago on generational differences, but when 2011 -2012 hit, she saw something that would scare her to the core.   This is the year when those having iPhones went over the 50% mark.

The results of that should scare all of us.

•This was the year that more kids started to say that they felt “sad, hopeless, useless… that they couldn’t do anything right (depression).”

•They felt left-out and lonely.

•There is a 50% increase in a clinical level depression between 2011-2015.

•A substantial increase in suicide rate.Before I give you any more, I want you to look at these graphs and look at how the information correlates to the iPhones being released.

They aren’t hanging out with friends  nearly as much.

They aren’t dating as much.


More likely to feel lonely.

They are getting less sleep.


She goes on to say that we are in the worst mental health crisis in decades.   

Why is this happening?  Why are kids more depressed because of electronics?

Think about when we were in school – we didn’t know every time that there was a get-together that we weren’t invited to and we didn’t see pictures of each outing, game, or party.

We didn’t care what we looked like when we were hanging out with friends, because we were  the only ones that were there- I can remember sitting around with my best friends in our sweatpants, just laughing – I didn’t wear makeup or care if I had my hair fixed just right, because the worry of a phone or camera wasn’t there.

Think about bullies.  When we left the school, we left them.   If teasing happened, it didn’t happen at home.  It didn’t happen so publicly.   Everyone couldn’t see it or know what they were teasing other kids about since they weren’t there.  Now, it’s all public knowledge, and anyone can join in or watch.   It’s horrifying.

I can’t imagine being a tween or teenager now.   Although- as the parents of children, we have to believe it, because we have to help our children navigate it.


According to Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist & writer at, “There is a silent tragedy developing right now, in our homes, and it concerns our most precious jewels – our children… Researchers have been releasing alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in kids’ mental illness, which is now reaching epidemic proportions:

•  1 in 5 children has mental health problems

•  43% increase in ADHD

• 37% increase in teen depression

• 200% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old


She goes on to say that “Today’s children are being deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood:

•Emotionally available parents

•Clearly defined limits and guidance


•Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep

•Movement and outdoors

•Creative play, social interaction, opportunities for unstructured times and boredom

Instead, children are being served with:

•Digitally distracted parents

•Indulgent parents who let kids “Rule the world”

•Sense of entitlement rather than responsibility

•Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition

•Sedentary indoor lifestyle

•Endless stimulation, technological babysitters, instant gratification, and absence of dull moments”

•How true… and how sad.

You can read the rest of her story at

I couldn’t agree more.  According to, “Despite the rise in teen depression, the study, which analysed data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, reported that there wasn’t a corresponding increase in mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults. Researchers said this is an indication that there is a growing number of young people who are under-treated or not treated at all for their symptoms. ”

The article goes on to say that it’s not just teenagers, it’s young kids- in elementary school.  “Counsellors like Ellen Chance in Palm Beach say they see evidence that technology and online bullying are affecting kids’ mental health as young as fifth grade, particularly girls.

“I couldn’t tell you how many students are being malicious to each other over Instagram. “I’ve had cases where girls don’t to come to school, and they are cutting themselves and becoming severely depressed because they feel outcasted and targeted.” She says she now sees cutting incidents pretty much weekly at her elementary school, and while they vary in severity, it’s a signal that not all is right.”


What can we do about it?

– The AAP now suggest screening all children for depression starting at age 11.

-Get back to what we did before phones (back to what our parents did when we were young)… spend time playing games with our kids.

-Spend dinnertime talking.

-Drop everything that you are doing when your kids get home from school to TALK to them.

-Make dinner without having the TV on, the phone close by, or the tablet tuned into something.

-Use any ‘car time’ to talk to our kids (maybe even by not allowing electronics in the car)

-Have your kids do chores: Responsibilities increase their self-worth.   Example: if you don’t set the table, we can’t eat.  If you don’t wash your clothes, you will have nothing to wear tomorrow:

“To develop a high self-esteem a person needs a purpose. A key component to high self-esteem relies on how you view yourself regarding contribution. In other words, in the child development process, chores are a big role in a kid’s self-esteem.” 

-Be sure that your child is getting enough sleep.   This is a substantial contributing factor.  

-Don’t keep a lot of junk food in the house.  Limit junk food & replace it with fruits & vegetables.  If your child is picky, they can certainly find a fruit or vegetable that they like.  (I’ve taught our kids to make smoothies, too, but they have to clean up after themselves, or they lose the privilege of using the blender… they LOVE to make them, so this is a consequence that they will not want to be placed on them).

Take away electronics and tell your kids to “go play!”   Don’t feel the need to always play with them.  My job, as a play therapist, is to teach parents how to play with their kids to help them, so while I always think that playing with your kids is a good idea, but I also want them to play alone.  I want them to learn how to keep themselves entertained.

From the time that our kids were tiny, I gave them time to entertain themselves, and now they are are all good about finding ways to keep themselves busy (drawing, playing, building, etc..)

– Don’t rescue your kids.   Here’s a recent example that happened in our house:

I’ve started having our kids pack their lunches (with my supervision), but yesterday one of our sons decided to wait.. .and wait… and wait.  When it was down to 10 minutes before leaving, he asked me to pack it.  I said no, and he then asked for lunch money.  I said, “I think it’s upstairs in your piggy bank if you have some in there.” His face said it all.   I wasn’t going to buy him out of this.  It was his responsibility.

IT is NEVER easy to teach our kids these lessons, but they serve our kids well.   He quickly made himself lunch and was on his way.   He learned a valuable life lesson about preparing himself for the day.

-Talk to your kids about why they need to come to you if something is wrong.  I talk to our kids about all of this, and they know that I would do anything to help them.   I say it daily… “If you are ever feeling sad or left out about something and it becomes too big for you to handle easily, come to me.”

Yes, it’s a lot to tell them, but it is the truth.  I need them to know it.  It’s not a joking matter, and it’s not one to take lightly. Talk to your kids TODAY.

Make a rule with yourself that you will limit YOUR online distractions when your kids are home. Set a time that you can put electronics away… for example: Make 3:30-9:00 a no-tech time for you, the parent.   (or whatever hours your kids are home). It will not only benefit your kids, but it will help you, too.

Yes, it’s the scary truth about what’s hurting our kids, but we have the power to help.

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Stories From Young Men Behind Bars

Stories From Young Men Behind Bars

We have spoken about them a lot - when they've jacked cars, burgled homes or rioted - but rarely have we heard from the teenagers in our juvenile jails.

The students of Parkville College, the school that educates young people in detention, wrote letters that formed the school's submission to the parliamentary inquiry into youth justice centres.

Here are their voices.

Some were as young as 11 when they were first locked up

"When I first came into Parkville I was 11. It was 2015. I was so scared I thought I was going to get raped. I have spent most of my life inside."

"I was 12 years old in 2015 when I first came to Parkville. I was scared. My time here has affected me because I have spent more time in Parkville than outside."

Food, education, jobs, structure, family. Many didn't have that on the outside

"School on the inside is great, my first time in three years. I finally get an education, I can't wait to  continue school on the outside."

"Parkville makes it worse because you like it in here ... You get food on the inside, kids don't get food on the outside."

"If you grow up in a family or community where crime is normal and violence is normal, you grow up thinking that's what life is meant to be like. By the time you realise its not, you're kind of already in that world and you're doing things that are really hard to stop doing."

"Sometimes you know you're never going to have anything, because you've got no job, no hope and so sometimes you just take things."

"There's a thrill in doing this stuff. We're teenagers and we don't always think; we just go along with stuff and if you haven't really had anyone to show you the right way, you do things the wrong way."

"You want to fit in, to belong and if that's what all of your friends are doing, you do it  too… things start small and it gets really hectic really quick."

"I know what it is like to grow up living with parents and getting hit on a daily basis."

It can get violent in there

"I have had people bullying me and hitting me and sexually assault me."

"Can't escape bad models, bullying and being transgender in a female's unit...  NO!!! NO!!! There are no good things about being locked up."

"Having to think every second 'am I going to get jumped?' or 'can they me my real friends?'"

"I have witnessed a lot of violence in here and this made me think more violently."

Many were on drugs on the outside

"You use drugs and then you need money to get more so you do awful shit that you  shouldn't and then you feel ashamed of what you've done and so you think it doesn't  matter any more so you do more of the bad shit that makes you feel shame and then you end up in here."

"There are some good things about being locked up, yes, to help you get clean from drugs."

Many were on drugs on the outside

"You use drugs and then you need money to get more so you do awful shit that you  shouldn't and then you feel ashamed of what you've done and so you think it doesn't  matter any more so you do more of the bad shit that makes you feel shame and then you end up in here."

"There are some good things about being locked up, yes, to help you get clean from drugs."

There are good things - like school and psychologists

"School on the inside brings a new challenge everyday and it gets exciting and makes you wanna learn about things you have never learnt before."

"I see a psychologist and I believe they help with self‐confidence and how to make you help yourself as well as others. The psychologists come every week to see you and they are there to talk to you when you're in need or need someone to talk to."

But some feel really alone

"I always feel sad here. I feel like I'm losing my family every day I'm in here – like I'm disconnecting from them while I'm here. I feel lonely."

They are listening to what's being said about them on the outside

"Young people who commit crimes are put in stereotypes in the media – we sound worse than we really are. They make it over dramatic. They stereotype black people, Aboriginal people."

"I personally feel like the media label us as terrifying and bad people and that people should fear for  their lives...I made a mistake...when I leave I am going for my  learners, getting a house and I have a job. So am I really a bad person? "

"Everyone says were all bad people. We're not; we just do silly things when we're out. I don't feel like my voice is being heard really, no one really cares. That I'm nice but I just do silly things when I'm out." (Grevillea unit)

They have good ideas about how to make it better on the inside

"Critical incidents could be avoided by workers using verbal communication when de-escalating.  The safety and security of staff and young people at Parkville and Malmsbury can be maintained by changing the strict rules, [and with] more DHHS across the centre more."

"If there were riots, I would take the kids out that caused them and I would put them in a unit with nothing, no matter what culture they are."

"It would be helpful to have a legal aid lawyer on site at Parkville or Malmsbury to talk about our crimes and give advice to us."

"I think bigger premises and more units would be helpful. More staffing so we are not locked in our cells all the time. No staff = no school."

They also have plans for their own futures

"I'm going to strive to face big challenges and courses that others would never think of and would also influence clients on the inside to become better on the outside."

"I now want to go live with my mum and do school."

But for others, that future is harder to see

"I don't think about how I want to be on the outside. Because there are too many things here, bothering me, stressing me out, that I can't plan for my future. In here it's the hardest, because everyone's trying to be the  hardest, the toughest."

"All the exact same people and situations are still there; nothing has really changed ...When you decide while you're at Parkville that you're not to get caught up in all that shit again and then you try when you get out but you fail; that is the worst feeling, you feel like nothing and then you don't care anymore, you just give up."

"Thank you for reading my story," teenager in Malmsbury.

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The most Common Mistakes Young People Make

“You can only go forward by making mistakes.” Said British fashion designer and couturier, Alexander McQueen.

What a thing to say! Humans are born to make mistakes, learn from them, and then move ahead. And indeed, youth is the best period of life to make mistake as we have time to let go, energy to move on, enthusiasm to try newer things, and curiosity to experience more.

But, do we all make the same mistakes? Or, are there some mistakes (just like road bumps) that we all end up making? Though, we all like to believe that everyone’s life is different and we advocate individuality, but there are many common mistakes that all young people end up making. Perhaps, that is the way of life and this is what makes us empathic towards each other.

It makes one wonder what are these common mistakes that young people makes and Quora, the popular Q&A forum, has the answer to this. In fact, people have loads to say about this and every single comment provides some interesting insights about life and young minds.

Here are some of the insightful answers to, What Are The Most Common Life Mistakes Young People Make?

Blogger, investor, and author, James Altucher, takes a very practical approach to answer this question. According to Altucher, there are many mistakes young people make and here are two of his very interesting points among many others.

#Having an opinion:

Altucher gives couple of examples, like, ‘What opinion can you possibly have? Global warming? Ok, good luck changing the world. War? Ok, good luck stopping the $200 billion defense lobbying industry from having war (sic).’ Then at the end he says, ‘Do what YOU love to do today. Surrender to the results. The more you surrender, the more results there will be.

The way you solve the world’s problems is to solve your problems. Then trust.’


Among other things Altucher has this to say, ‘Like when you’re 19 years old and you want to talk about the status of your relationship. There is no status. You’re 19. Guess what. Even if you’re 50 you don’t need to talk about it. Treat the other person nice. Then your status will be good. If you hit the person you are living with then your status won’t be good. Talking won’t do anything. 
This holds for most things’.

Joao M B Pinheiro gives his opinion from male’s prospective and here is what he thinks are the common life mistakes of young people.

1. Obsessing on success (leads to short term thinking which prevents young people from having a calmer life and realising they have 50 years of career ahead of them. i.e. getting rich fast)
2. Overdoing alcohol (because it’s something new to them, relatively easy to obtain and prone to peer pressure)
3. Believing every girlfriend is “The one” (this leads to heartbreaks which triggers a whole lot of different emotions and stupid attitudes. only time will tell which girl is the one, taking things slow and avoiding full time devotion helps.)
4. Overconfidence (thinking they know more than older and more experienced people, usually, leads to disappointment. Doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take risks on their own (they should), but listening to Parents, friends and esteemed advisors doesn’t hurt)

Another Quora member who is in his early 20s, Joseph Mutie, has also pointed out couple of mistakes.

#Eating a lot of junk

At such a young age, health should be paramount because if you are not healthy, you won’t be able to work, study and execute your responsibilities as required.

#Failing to exercise

I would combine this with the point above. Keeping fit is very important and no one needs to start spending time in hospitals from a young age.

#Comparing themselves to their peers

The fact about life is some people will always be better than you and others will always be worse than you, it is okay. Accept it.

The problem about comparing yourself with your peers is, you start getting jealous, develop a low self esteem, low confidence and generally you will think your life sucks.

#Believing everything they see on TV

The other day my little cousin surprised me when our cable paid TV was cut off and she couldn’t watch Keeping up with the Kardashians and she got so mad about it. She thinks it is real, yet they act and present us with what they think we want to see. When she learned it is acted, she now has little interest in it.

#Living life the way their friends think they should be/Spending more than they earn/Living beyond their means

Even older people do this mistake. Have seen many young and as well older people take a loan to buy a car just because their friends think they should be driving even when it is clear that owning a car will be beyond their means. This is not limited to cars but to all other secondary needs like latest gadgets, entertainment systems e.t.c

#Spoiling relationships/Not creating good relationships/Dating wrong people

I don’t think anyone can have a complete happy life without being in good relationships with their spouses, family and friends, workmates e.t.c. I think nobody would want to invest in the wrong gf or bf if they knew they would divorce one day. It is right to date the right people.

#Failing to develop a set of skills

Young people should spend most of their time developing new skills and gathering new knowledge which will help them in their career, be it professional or not.

#Doing drugs and alcohol.

I don’t think that this needs any explanation. Drugs and alcohol will ruin your life.

#Failing to dream

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams as Eleanor Roosevelt once said. No one will ever come to help you achieve your dream, you have to work on it because very few people will actually believe you in your early stages.

#Depending on help too much

I have seen so many young people who depend on their parents too much to the point they become a bother to the parents. If you got your parents to pay for your university fees and even bought items for your new apartment you must be lucky because others have had to do that on their own by balancing demanding part time jobs and class work.


I can’t count the number of people who I lost trust for because of their lies. Lies ruin relationships and trust. It costs nothing to say the truth and being honest.

Rahul Kunatala has this to say,

1. Not Reading Enough
2. Consuming More Than Creating
3. Not Learning The “Art Of Selling”.
4. Gossiping

Here is another thought post by Mark VandeWettering.

#Being in hurry. To find the right person, the right career, the right job. When you are young, you want it all to happen all at once, before you even have a chance to figure yourself out. Take your time.

#Thinking that love is a feeling. Love is a choice, and a commitment. It’s something you do, not something you feel. Trust those who act like they love you, not just those who say that they do.

#Drugs and alcohol can be addictive, which means that they will make you do things you normally wouldn’t do. Pay attention and be cautious with them.

#Living to work, instead of working to live. Never pass up a good thing.

#Cynicism. If you think you can’t make a difference, you probably won’t. There is no margin in being a cynic.

#Thinking that your parents aren’t as human as you are. And taking them for granted: they won’t be around forever.

Soma Mohapatra Dash, a writer and editor, writes about two categories of mistakes and here they are:

Following are the most common mistakes:

1. Not doing any mistake
2. Not taking any chance
3. Not risking for higher goal
4. Not being focused

Following are some more serious mistakes:

1. Relaying on willpower for long term change
2. Attempting big leap instead of baby steps
3. Ignoring how environment shapes behaviors
4. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones
5. Blaming failure on lack of motivation
6. Underestimating the power of trigger
7. Believing that information leads to action
8. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors
9. Seeking to change a behavior forever, not for a short time
10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult

And, this writer ends up by saying, “The worst mistake is making a mistake and trying to erase it and thus hide it forever.”

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