Nigerian teenagers face a lot of challenges daily, at this growth stage of their lives, between 13 and 19 years old, they are exposed to some external and internal struggles, ranging from puberty, parental, social, work, school and peer pressures, career choice, etc. which tend to overwhelm them.
The challenges that Nigerian teenagers face today vary, but these challenges can be dealt with without much difficulty if parents, guardians, elders, teachers, counsellors, and other caregivers including the teenagers themselves can understand the symptoms of their challenges and make considerable efforts to deal with them.
The Major 6 Challenges Nigerian Teenagers Face Are Explained As Follows:
- Peer Pressure: This stems from competition among teen friends, neighbours, schoolmates, colleagues, or any other group of teens. A Nigerian teenager faces direct influence by their peers or mates and can get encouraged to follow their peers by unduly changing their attitudes, values or behaviours to conform to those of the influencing group or individual(s). This is a major challenge, especially for Nigerian teenagers with low self-esteem, and it can affect their abilities for independent decision making. Right peer pressure can lead to the acquisition of new skills, knowledge, etc. whereas wrong peer pressure can result in criminal behaviour and misdemeanour among Nigerian teenagers. Parents and guardians should, therefore, become well aware of the kind of company their children keep.
- Internet/Game Addiction: Although the internet is beneficial in the technological and technical development of a teen, however, using the internet, especially the social networking and adult (pornographic) websites, puts Nigerian teenagers at very high risk for many problems. When teens spend unhealthy time online they tend to become internet addicts, which can be just as harmful as drug or alcohol addiction, and may suffer from a condition known as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), with symptoms like distress, withdrawal symptoms, obsessive thoughts and behaviours, tremors, and other mental and physical problems. They are also at the risk of online predators and bullies. Also, Nigerian teenagers who spend excessive time playing video games are exposed to the same challenge. Internet/game addiction impairs the quality of their lives. Parents should regulate the time their children spend online and on playing video games, and also supervise the content they are exposed to.
- Drug Abuse/Alcoholism: Nigerian teenagers who drink, smoke or ingest overdose of harmful substances like cocaine, codeine, cannabis, Indian hemp, Tramadol, etc. put themselves at risks for many problems. For instance, they could face confrontation with law enforcement agents, or problems at school, with their families, and peers. They also stand a risk of damaging vital body organs like the liver, kidney, lungs and heart, which could lead to their untimely death. It is therefore vital that parents, schools, media, etc. educate Nigerian teenagers on the dangers of drug abuse.
- Teenage Sex/Pregnancy: Nigerian teenagers who cannot find parental love or financial support at home, or emotional/moral support at schools often begin to build unhealthy relationships with friends or strangers in and around their localities, resulting in unsafe or teenage sex, and possible teenage pregnancy. Rampant teenage sex results in the moral degradation of a society and teenage pregnancy can shatter the future educational and life goals/ambitions of Nigerian teenagers. They should be made to understand that abstinence is the best practice. Also, parents, guardians and teachers should offer unconditional love and moral guidance to their children. Again, the government should discourage child marriage, sexual violence/rape, and instead invest in the girl child’s education and youth empowerment.
- Child Abuse/Bullying: This comes in various forms like physical maltreatment, sexual molestation, verbal/psychological abuse, neglect, exploitation, and trafficking of Nigerian teenagers, especially by parents and other caregivers. Two of the main reasons teens are bullied are their appearance and social status. Bullying causes Nigerian teenagers to live in a state of fear, anxiety, rejection and depression. Bullying is a very offensive behaviour and crime and leads to more violent behaviour in the bullies in their adult years. Parents, teachers, media and everyone, in general, should educate Nigerian teenagers about child abuse and bullying and tell them to report any act of abuse or bullying to the appropriate authorities.
- Self-Image Issues: Puberty changes have huge effects on the general growth and mood of teens and can tempt teenagers to compare themselves with people around them and when they find they do not match their standards, they feel low. They also compare themselves with celebrities seen on TV, in movies, and in the magazines. Most teens’ ability to develop positive self-esteem is affected by family life and parental criticism. Nigerian teenagers who experience constant negative comments about their appearances, the way they talk, etc., also develop poor self-esteem and body image.
Parents should be wary of undue harsh criticism on their children and protect them too from such.
In conclusion, parents, guardians and teachers need to approach their children, who have been suffering from one or more teenage challenges, carefully and in a friendly manner to discuss the challenge(s). Many Nigerian teenagers feel misunderstood. It is vital that their feelings and thoughts are validated and that the validation comes from their parents and caregivers.