As an experienced teacher with 25 years in the classroom, and currently a ‘Leader of Learning and Wellbeing’ at a North Brisbane Secondary College, Garry Woodford has seen firsthand how technology has changed the way teenagers and young people live their day-to-day lives, and the impacts it is having on their social and emotional wellbeing.
In a digital age where everyone has unlimited access to websites, apps, gaming, emails, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube on multiple smart devices instantly, Garry says it’s now harder for kids to make connections in the real world.
“It’s tough for us to compete. These channels are all vying for the attention of our youth and stealing their focus from genuinely connecting,” Garry says.
“Instead, our children are opting for anything that provides instant dopamine and gratification because they have been deliberately wired to seek more stimulation, now.
“Whether you like it or not, the world is happening at warp speed, and it’s over stimulating our children. As a result, it is increasing pressures felt by young people and teens.
“What we are seeing today is less focused, less calm, less resilient kids. They are less physically active, and they are less engaged with the people in their lives, often choosing artificial intelligence over authentic connection.
“The pandemic amplified this. There was a lot of reliance on technology, especially when people were working and studying from home, unable to interact physically.”
This in turn has meant more people are now addicted to technology.
“Sadly, much of our society and especially our kids are now addicted to technology and it’s not making them happier,” Garry explains.
“Basing worthiness on how many ‘friends’ they have online or how many likes they can get on their posts, photos, and videos, looking for instant gratification and validation.
“Now, when the ‘likes’ aren’t instantly received it’s wired them to question their value, having a harmful effect on their mental health.
“Statistics show young teenage girls are typically addicted to social media earlier and suffer more frequently from self-body image, suicidal tenancies, self-harm, depression, and anxiety, at higher levels than we have ever seen before.
“It shows our young men are also becoming more desensitised to violence, more addicted to online gaming, gambling and pornography, and this is the new norm.”
Transactional relationships are openly self-promoted with sexting and nudes’ now common place.
Garry half-heartedly jokes and says, “we seem to be losing ourselves in place of the selfie”.
“In a time where we are seen to be ‘more connected’ than ever, we are ’more emotionally disconnected’ than ever.”
In a bid to help the next generation live more meaningful, happier, healthier lives, Garry has made it his mission to educate others on how this can be achieved. Based on authentic success measures, with lived insight, and additional research that is coming from a neurological standpoint, Garry explains how the brains of teenagers are wired differently to their parents, and with a little understanding, you can improve those lost connections. This inspired the launch of his new business, in8code.
in8code is a movement that endeavours to positively impact communities using social, emotional, and neuroscience-based innovations to educate parents, children, educators, and corporates on the importance of building connection, culture, and community in people’s daily lives.
in8code will host a number of public seminars that will give people the tools they need to help rebuild the relationships that are most important to them.
“The main thing I want people to take away from these seminars is to understand how the teenage brain ticks, especially in this technological age,” Garry explains.
“These seminars are not about telling parents what to do, but instead they will help build the self-esteem of parents and provide them with basic engagement tools that will help improve the level of communication with their kids.
“There are many times when we feel lost and end up second guessing our parenting style because it feels like we are losing our kids.
“I too go through this. None of us are perfect parents, but I believe what I’ve learned can make a difference.
“If it helps one family, then it’s worthwhile.
“I want to help them build up confidence in their parenting again.”
in8code will begin launching with seminars and workshops in March 2023., with the first one to be held next week.
For those unable to attend the face-to-face seminars they can access the online webinars, book a face-to-face consultation, or undertake the online support course. There is also access to an e-book and a series of podcasts.
Garry has also recorded 15 podcasts which he plans on releasing soon.
There is also a series of engagement options available for educators, schools and businesses with a focus on building culture and connection within their community.
Find out more
Garry will be hosting a Reconnecting Family Relationships seminar at Cedar and Pine Bar in Wynnum on Tuesday, March 14 from 6-8pm.
To book, visit Eventbrite to reserve your seats.
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