Problems in life are relative, as we all know, and worries about how well a child has done in recent exams would be a comparative luxury for some of the parents who come to talk to me about their children.
For Susanna getting her teenage son out of his bedroom, let alone to school, last term would have been a victory. Josh, 15, had developed a passion – or an obsession – for talking to online friends. He increasingly withdrew from his mother and sister, emerging briefly to raid the fridge and became aggressive and distraught at threats that the internet might have been disconnected.
Or there’s the father of 14-year-old Shoshanna, who became worried sick after intercepting “dark and dangerous” messages on her Facebook and began to notice the anxiety and depression his previously sunny child had developed.
It is hardly news that the “found everywhere” smartphone is a major contemporary conundrum.
A “can’t live with and can’t live without” dilemma that one can safely assume the 70 per cent of adult New Zealanders who own a smartphone will be familiar with. According to Research NZ, only two years ago this figure was at 48 per cent.
Today’s digital natives though are our children who are growing up online with their iPads and smartphones. We have a new and complex contemporary problem.