Talk Around Town
Teens puzzle parents by escaping to cyberspace
by Mai Phuong
In the narrow homes that line Ha Noi’s winding alleys, secrets have long been a scarce commodity – an ideal situation for fretful parents.
That, however, is changing with teens’ widening access to a world that remains mysterious to many parents: the internet. Now, any adolescent with a computer at home (or a spare VND3,000 to spend on an hour at an internet cafe) has access to a practically unlimited bank of information, as well as a private forum for chatting with friends.
Teens’ desire to keep their private lives private is nothing new, but now they actually can.
The recent spread of a sexual video clip of a popular 19-year-old actress made clear just how little parents know about what their children are seeing and doing online.
If parents and educators are too slow to catch on to these activities, they’ll miss their window of opportunity to provide the guidance youth need to make sense of sex and learn about reproductive health. Simply tagging the spread of the video as a “social evil” will neither keep young people from accessing such illicit information nor help them understand it.
The problem, parents say, is that access to the internet has made their teens more reticent about sharing their private lives than ever.
Bui Hong Hanh, a mother of two living in HCM City, is puzzled with the behaviour of her second daughter. She never had any trouble communicating with her first-born, but her second child only grows more distant the more Hanh attempts to reach out to her.
“She never opens her heart to me,” she complained. “Her closest friend is her laptop that her father gave her when she turned 16. I feel like the internet has replaced my role as her mother.”
Such puzzlement has become common among parents, according to a psychologist from the 1088 telephone consultation service in Ha Noi.
“Children now are living in an era that is drastically different from that of their parents,” he said, citing the influence of modernisation and globalisation on Vietnamese familial behaviour.
“Access to the internet has given young people unprecedented independence, which they define as freedom to do what they want or freedom from their parents’ surveillance. Western countries have already had to deal with these changes in lifestyle, but Viet Nam is still transitioning,” he said.
Given such a discrepancy in the lifestyles of youth today and 15 years ago, the communication gap between parents and their offspring is unsurprising.
While some blame the gulf on overworked parents without enough time to attend to their children, parents themselves say that they just can’t figure out how to connect to their kids. When today’s parents were teenagers, the vast majority of their interpersonal interaction took place in person, within communities full of watchful eyes and open ears.
In contrast, today’s teenagers study, play and talk to their friends within an invisible network that they can navigate much more adeptly than their parents. With the whole world available as an audience for their personal problems, teens no longer need to confide in their anxious moms.
“She seems like she doesn’t want to talk to me, particularly about secrets,” said Bui Thi Vien, 46, the mother of a 16-year-old daughter living in Ha Noi’s Dong Da District.
Vien said that such behaviour was a far cry from her own experience of adolescence, in which daughters were expected to be obedient and open with their parents.
“We still talk about things, simple things like what to eat, what to watch on TV and how to make a nice gift for her boyfriend, but I know she’s distancing herself from me,” Vien said.
She recalled being insulted by her daughter after entering her bedroom without permission.
“Her room was a mess, and I just wanted to help her clean it. She knew that, but she was rude to me and clearly angry. She said I had violated her privacy, which showed that I did not respect her,” Vien said.
At first, Vien had thought to herself, “To hell with her permission! I am her mother, and I should have the right to know everything about her.”
After giving it some thought, however, she grew to accept that her daughter was her own person, with different ways of thinking and feeling from her mother’s. Still, Vien felt that a wall had emerged between them.
In many countries, such secretive behaviour is considered standard among teenagers. In Viet Nam, however, the concept of teens having space of their own – be it the internet or their bedrooms – is new, and parents aren’t sure how to enter.
Parents have no doubt, though, that their guidance is still needed. A father in Ha Noi was shocked to discover that his 13-year-old son already had a girlfriend. He could not understand how the little couple could claim to be in love and worried that they were mimicking the acts of adults in love, which they could have learned about through the internet.
The father considered it a wake-up call and vowed to spend more time talking with his son and monitoring his behaviour.
Counsellors and psychologists would likely give the same advice to concerned parents: be patient, attentive and gentle, and you can keep your relationship with your children intact. — VNS
- Teen Girls With Smartphones Flirt Most With Depression and Suicide
- Teen Arrested In Arden Fair Mall Black Friday Shooting That Killed 2 Other Teens
- Stockton Teens Riding Same Kind Of Popular Bike Targeted At Gunpoint
- Teen who pushed boy, 6, off 10th floor balcony of Tate Modern has appeal against 15-year minimum sentence denied
- Runaway Oklahoma teen swept away in Arkansas River after escaping residential treatment facility: officials
- Girl, 8, breaks hearts as she pens letter to bully who called her fat writing ‘this is my body and I love who I am’
- Mum accused of ‘child neglect’ after sharing an innocent snap of her toddler daughter’s pink bedroom
- I had to give my baby up for adoption at 15 – I felt helpless, barely held my boy and my heart still aches for him
- Epic Games Store Free Games Full List: Which Games Are Free This Week? How to Claim Your Free Games
- The best iPad games of 2020 you need to play
- Heiress who owns a bungalow JUST for designer gear breaks down in tears as family struggle to feed kids on £197 a month
- The 53 best shows on Hulu right now
- A brief history of cyberpunk games
- ‘Glee’ Gone Wild
- The best PS4 exclusives for 2020
- The best shows to binge-watch on Netflix right now
- The 40 best series to watch on Disney+ right now
- Police Arrest Alleged Gunman In Arden Fair Mall Black Friday Fatal Shooting
- China accuses Italy of starting Covid pandemic and claims its own study PROVES it
- Annapurna Devi and her music of silence
Teens puzzle parents by escaping to cyberspace have 1141 words, post on at December 17, 2007. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.