Almost every teenager today has a smartphone and unrestricted data connectivity. Internet
accessibility has reached a new high among teens. It’s very rare to see a teen who isn’t glued to
their screen. Unfortunately, with the spread of COVID-19 and the imposition of a countrywide
lockdown, researchers have observed a sudden spike in the amount of time spent by teens
online. Going digital has become the new normal among teens.Social networking sites thrive on
teen presence from Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, each of them cater to the growing need
for belonging and validation, commonly found in adolescents. Their constant need to belong and
feel validated stems from a lack of acknowledgement of their needs and voices. Growing up in a
society where their opinion is given no importance creates a rift within their family.It becomes
difficult for teens to express their issues and problems in an organised manner when their
issues are dismissed as childish mood swings, it becomes difficult for them to open up to people
they consider to be their “safe spaces”. The digital world is ever-changing. But with the online
world there comes a false hope of solace and confidence. Teens today are increasingly relying
on social media platforms for validation. Online platforms provide spaces to express dissent,but,
in recent times the act of dissenting has invited cyberbullying and harassment. The fear of
missing out compels teens and adolescents to take to online spaces, at the cost of their mental
health. With no one to provide accountability and bullying and harassment being normalised,
teens are left to fend for themselves in the ruthless digital world. Friendships today are often
formed through social media platforms. The decrease in real-world socialisation and the rapid
increase in digital socialisation has become a cause for increased anxiety and distress among
the majority of teens.
Adolescents with pre-existing mental health problems often try to distract themselves from the
constant barrage of COVID-19 and political news, by binge-watching on OTT platforms.
I really cannot fathom the degree of damage that teens with existing mental health issues are
facing during this tumultuous time. Nonetheless, it’s still not late. As offline options to seek help
were done away with, Thatmate concentrated on making their digital counselling services
available to teens and adolescents. Teens turn to peers, who they feel understand them without
any pretence or judgement,similarly they can now turn to the counsellors on Thatmate, who will
listen to each and every teen for they believe that all of them have their own unique set of
needs. Thatmate understands the stigma surrounding mental health in Brown families and
therefore provides guidelines for parents who wish to help their teenage kids through this
difficult period. It’s about time we de-stigmatise mental health problems and start a
conversation. Thatmate actively seeks to help teens in mental distress with sensitivity, care and
love. It promises a healthy intervention and makes sure that parents who have never given
mental health much thought do so because it’s the need of the hour. Compassion, kindness,
love begin at home.
Talk to your adolescent kid today. Tell them you love them and do not put conditions on the love
they receive. Listen to them. Mental health is not always about “it’s in your head”, it is several
Thatmate is here to help. So we at Thatmate want to help you take your first step towards
understanding the needs of your adolescent child.
By Ankan R.