Family ties weaken as distance grows between young people and their families. These young people spend a large chunk of their time on social media and the internet. They are engrossed with themselves and experts in the field say that the guardians have the responsibility to reduce this growing gap.

In its Youth Survey 2019, Prothom Alo spoke to the young people about this distance between them and their families. The survey was carried out among 1,200 young people aged between 15 and 29.

Those working in the field of psychology and social science, have long been stressing the importance of family ties and values. The youth now too are displaying concern about this. They see a steady decline in mental communication with their parents.

According to the Prothom Alo survey, 78.1 per cent of the youth feel that the gap between parents and children is widening. When both parents work, they cannot give sufficient time to their offspring and so the distance grows, the youth said.

However, this feeling among youth about a growing distance with parents, has lessened over the past two years. In a similar survey taken by Prothom Alo in 2017, a total of 85.7 per cent of the youth felt that there was a growing distance between children and parents.

Psychiatrists feel that children are now easier about discussing their problems with their parents than before, but not in all cases. When it comes to very personal matters, they opt to discuss these issues with their friends or others, rather than their parents. Parents must give due importance to their children’s emotions and be involved in their lives. There has to be a mental connection between parents and children.

Professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, Tajul Islam, told Prothom Alo that there is no doubt that the gap between parents and their children is widening. Both sides have shortcomings in this regard. Excessive use of social media leads to unsocial behaviour

When asked about the three main causes of anxiety among the youth, the young people first spoke about the inability to get along with their families. The next factor causing them worry was their aim in life, and then personal security and employment.

Among the respondents, 78.2 per cent felt that family ties were steadily weakening. However, 18.9 per cent differed from this, saying that studies and jobs kept them away more from their families. They did not believe that a distance had been created in that sense.

Specialists, scrutisning the results of the survey, said that with both parents working, they gave less time and attention to their children. And in many cases, their parents themselves were addicted to social media. Another reason for the distance was parents putting excessive pressure on their children for studies. This impaired friendly relations between the parents and the children. All these reasons often caused the youth to become depressed, turn to drugs, frustration and the breakdown of joint families. The specialists felt that parents should pay attention to behavioural changes in their children as well as their use of the social media. They needed to impart correct values to their children.

They were concerned about staying together with their families, said 72.2 per cent of the young people under the survey. This was the same two years ago, according to the survey taken then, when 72.6 per cent shared this concern.

The youth spend their free time on social media and chatting in the internet. According to the survey, 53.4 per cent of the youth spent their leisure time on the internet. This was 70 per cent among the higher educated youth.

Experts see the youth’s inclination towards social media as a result of lack of opportunity for sports or academic activities. They said the internet and social media could be used to enhance knowledge and skills, but rather than that, the youth were using this to waste their time.

However, a percentage of the respondents said that they used their internet for productive purposes. The internet helped them in their studies, find jobs and so on.

Associate professor Mekhla Sarkar of the National Institute of Mental Health told Prothom Alo that one must be cautious when giving a child a mobile phone. The parents must step up their communication with their children and grow a friendly relationship. Strong family ties will lessen youths’ anxiety about other matters.

* This report appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir