We all remember that first day back to school every year after your summer vacation came to an abrupt end and the reality set in that it went by way too fast. Whether it was your first day of kindergarten or your first day of grade 6 or maybe it was your final year of high school or even your first day of post-graduate school, each year brought with it a new set of challenges as your identity was about to change yet again. You remember your parents beaming with pride and excitement as they snapped photos of you and your siblings to mark this current milestone in your lives while humming happy tunes in their head (or maybe even out loud), but inside they may have also been fighting back tears or their hearts may have been overcome with some apprehension and worry.

The first day back to school is like a new beginning, a fresh start or maybe even a do-over for so many adolescents, teenagers and young adults alike and it really is no different today for all of us who have since become parents ourselves as it was for the generations before us some 30 or 40 years ago; or is it? We still beam with the same pride and excitement as our parents once did as we eagerly snap photos of our kids on their first day of kindergarten or while boarding the bus to their new middle school for the first time or even as they prepare to leave the nest for the first time to enter a University 100’s of kilometers (or miles) away, but what is most obviously different today is that technology and Social Media have allowed us to share these intimate and very personal moments with the rest of the world, all in real-time. We get to see your kid’s smiling faces and we even get to feel your raw emotions too but what we don’t often see is what lies beneath the surface in these photos of so many adolescents, teenagers and young adults today.

It is no secret that our adolescents, teenagers and young adults today are experiencing many more struggles and issues in regards to their mental wellbeing than ever before. It is widespread, universal and prevalent in every age group that I have mentioned above. Statistics have proven that technology and Social Media have magnified their struggles at an alarming rate and evidence shows that their constant consumption of these platforms is affecting how they learn, sleep, communicate and even show kindness.

Struggles with anxiety, depression, bullying, eating disorders and peer pressure are leading to more and more suicides among adolescents, teenagers and young adults than ever before. Those first day of school photos now for many, the ones we get to see, the ones with the big smiles on their faces can oftentimes be concealing a very scared and vulnerable adolescent, teenager or young adult as they hide behind the safety of their cell phones and Social Media platforms.

I will be the first to admit that I truly have quite a limited amount of knowledge as to what really goes on in my teenagers and young adult’s lives outside of what they let me see on their (open) Social Media platforms or what they communicate to me in person and I know I’m not alone and it’s very scary. You can believe that you are always one step ahead of them, but the reality is we will never be no matter what measures or control we put into place. You may be the fricken mother of the year, or the most hands on dad in all the world but still those first day of school photos may be camouflaging a much bigger picture of what is going on.

The best we can do in this new and ever changing world we live in today is to encourage our adolescents, teenagers and young adults to talk to us when something is wrong before it’s too late or let them know that even if they have made a mistake that we are there for them no matter what and that it is just as important for them to be aware that if they see something or hear something that makes them uncomfortable or vulnerable that it’s more than okay to let a trusting adult know.

Oh and lets not forget that kindness goes a very long way in ensuring those same adolescents, teenagers and young adults start this new school year off with the best damn back to school photo ever as they embark on a new beginning, a fresh start or maybe even their do-over year. Check up on your friends, don’t put them down; brighten their day with a kind word, don’t judge it; smile at the awkward kid, don’t look away; do the right thing because it’s the little things in life that truly matter and it may even have the potential to turn someone’s life around. Together let’s all learn to kill this new school year ahead with kindness.

Author: Kim Fluxgold

Wife, mom of 3 beautiful children, dog lover, creative sole and children's book Author. Sharing my journey with depression and anxiety through blogging in hopes of educating and ending the stigma.

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