What’s it like being a 14-year-old? Madonna King reveals all…

by |April 18, 2017

By Madonna King.

In Being 14, Australian teen girls tell you – their parents and grandparents, aunts and neighbours, what they want you to hear. The result of interviewing almost 200 14-year-old girls across Australia, it gives a voice to our teens, and allows them to nominate their challenges at work, and at home. Those challenges are then put to dozens of successful school principals, counsellors, teachers, police officers, parenting experts and teen psychologists in a bid to help you navigate a solution, at home and at school.

This is just a snippet of what I learnt, as a journalist and as a mother of two daughters approaching 14:

1. Seven in every ten 14-year-old girls get insufficient sleep. Often this is because of the number of extra-curricular activities, not just social media. They need nine hours minimum each night, and 30 minutes of missed sleep records a measurable IQ difference of up to 10 points.

2. Setting up false social media accounts, purporting to be another person, is now a common act of revenge when friends fall out. You’ll read how this is having dreadful consequences, as the victim logs on to find she has allegedly spent spiteful and abusive messages to her friends.

3. About one-third of teen girls – according to educators and police – will send a half-naked photograph of themselves to someone else. Being 14 explores the motivation behind girls doing this, but also explains why it is often the “good’’ student who falls foul of social media.

4. Frenetic home lives add to the obsession with social media. A girl, who has a disagreement with her friends, now comes home, into her room, where that argument will grow and continue into the night. More connected than ever, our teen girls can feel utterly alone. Some are sending more than 100 texts each night.

5. The ages of 12-25 are crucial in the brain’s development, with the part that provides teens with reasoning skills still developing over this period. In Being 14, science experts explain this is why your 14-year-old might appear disorganised.

6. An anxiety epidemic exists, with school refusal and self-harm, on the rise. In some cases, girls are seeking counselling because they failed to achieve A-grade marks or get into an extension class. Is this what we want from our daughters? And why have 14-year-olds made contact with Kids Helpline 22,000 times in the past four years?

7. We all worry about our teens having too many friends on social media, so think about this: a 14-year-old with 650 friends on one social media app could conceivably have 325,000 people able to contact her because of the number of followers each of her friends boasts. Jon Rouse who heads Taskforce Argos – the undercover police unit that tracks online sex offenders – points the finger squarely at parents.

8. Online porn is becoming a dominant “sex educator’’ for boys, and police and educators say this is impacting on how girls are treated, and how they see themselves. Being 14 talks to police about how they are handling this challenging new environment, and educators explain what our teen girls need to know.

Being 14 walks parents through issues as varied as pocket money and teen parties, self image and academic pressure, the relationship between teen girls and their mothers, and provides the expert advice on keeping that relationship strong. Importantly, it is a book that gives our teen girls a voice. In it, they confide what they really want us to know. And the experts provide us with the best way to make our teen girls into awesome women.

Being 14by Madonna King

Being 14

by Madonna King

Is your daughter 14? Are you struggling to know what's going on inside her head? Are you worried?

This is the book that can help you understand how she's feeling, what she's thinking and what you need to do to help her navigate her tricky teens to become a fabulous woman.

BEING 14 gives a voice to every teen girl in Australia. Madonna King has interviewed 200 14-year-old girls across the country, talked to successful school principals, psychologists, CEOs, police, guidance and neuroscientists to reveal the social, psychological and physical challenges every 14-year-old girl is facing today...

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