Tweets won’t help teens; mentor them

Girl using smartphone

Teenage girl using smartphone.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • The best thing about mentorship is that you don’t need a lot of resources to spend two hours a month with a 16-year-old.

It has been an incredibly difficult week for Kenyan parents in the wake of the disturbing news of teenage girls leaving their homes into the snares of paedophiles to “escape boredom” at home. If Covid-19 was a big challenge to parents, it is a confusing time for teenagers who would otherwise have been busy with school, homework, sports activities and exams. But these are different times.

Teens suddenly find themselves with too much time on their hands, bored stiff, with the adults away hustling or working from home with strict instructions not to be bothered.

They are left with mobile phones and an internet teeming with despicable adults and equally clueless teens to entertain them. The conversations have majorly circled around modern-day parenting and many questions have been raised.

Should parents allow their children unrestricted access to mobile phones and social media? What happened to the good old spanking that modern parents seem to have abandoned in favour of dialogue and “reasoning” with their children? Are the recent cases a reflection of a deeper national crisis of parenting in the digital age?

We have read a raft of opinions, some legitimate and tempered with requisite parenting experience and some downright unpractical and ill-informed. May I add that the ill-informed ones are mostly from those who have never experienced a day of parenting in their lives, shouting themselves hoarse from Twitter and Facebook mountaintops, “Ban children from mobile phones and technology until they turn 18!”

Today’s article is for those who, like me, care about children but do not know how to help. With zero experience in raising a teenager and bereft of the moral authority to point fingers at “incompetent “parents, what can you do to help? I might have an idea. Mentorship.

Instead of taking to social media with unsolicited and rather embarrassing opinions, you might consider taking some time off your high horse and mentor a teenager near you.

If we really want to help this unique Generation Z, who have no idea what it means to live in a world without a mobile phone, Wi-Fi and Netflix, tweets and Facebook posts will seldom help.

We need to take more active roles in their lives, encouraging and listening to their experiences. We could talk about our career paths, our experiences in college and how we overcame the challenges to encourage them to stay the course and avoid the entrapments of a digital world.

The best thing about mentorship is that you don’t need a lot of resources to spend two hours a month with a 16-year-old.

After that, you will not only Tweet from a point of knowledge but also play your little part in raising the next generation, before your turn to experience first-hand the pain of the current parent.


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