Relationships in a Media-Driven, Promiscuous Society

In an era where media profoundly shapes perceptions and behaviors, especially in matters of relationships and dating, young people and their parents face the significant challenge of maneuvering these influences with care and discernment. This need becomes even more critical in a culture that often promotes promiscuity and instant gratification. Understanding the merits of waiting and refraining from dating can be invaluable.

Media often casts dating and romantic relationships in a light that prioritizes excitement and passion, sometimes at the expense of stability and respect. This portrayal, commonly seen in television shows, movies, and advertisements, can pressure the youth into dating, leading to a distorted understanding of what constitutes healthy relationships.

Research has revealed concerning trends related to early dating. Teenagers who begin dating early often engage in risky behaviors, suffer from lower academic achievements, and experience emotional distress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that adolescents who date before the age of 15 have a higher likelihood of experiencing depression and engaging in unhealthy behaviors, including substance abuse. The risks are not just emotional in a society that frequently endorses casual relationships; they are also physical. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among adolescents who engage in casual or unprotected sexual activities. Moreover, the emotional upheaval from unstable relationships can cause long-term psychological effects, like anxiety and low selfesteem.

Opting to delay entering into romantic relationships allows young people to concentrate on personal growth, education, and laying a solid foundation for future relationships. This approach often leads to more mature and stable relationships later in life. Studies indicate that individuals who postpone dating usually enjoy more successful long-term relationships, as they enter these relationships with a clearer sense of identity and personal values. For parents, guiding their children through these complexities is essential. Engaging in open discussions about the realities of dating, the importance of self-respect, and the value of meaningful relationships is crucial. Encouraging children to focus on their aspirations, hobbies, and friendships can provide a healthy base for making informed decisions about relationships in the future.

In addressing the challenges faced by young parents in the digital age, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih 5th Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) highlights the adverse effects that excessive screen time can have on children’s eyesight and thinking. Noting that educational content has largely moved online due to situations like the Covid-19 pandemic, Huzoor Anwar (aba) stresses the importance of differentiating this from the overuse of online games and other screen-based entertainment, which can lead to addiction and exposure to inappropriate content.

To prevent children from falling into the disorder prevalent among youth due to excessive screen time, Huzoor Anwar (aba) underscores the active role parents must play. He advises parents to closely monitor their children’s screen interactions, whether they involve games, television programs, or online material. Setting clear boundaries regarding screen time is critical. Moreover, he suggests that parents should engage in meaningful conversations with their children about the risks of excessive screen time and promote healthier alternatives like reading books, which are more beneficial for brain development.

Huzoor Anwar’s (aba) words offer a roadmap for parents: “Even scientists and doctors are now saying that too much screen-time has a negative effect on a child’s eyesight and thinking, which is why children should not use the internet or play games or watch television for more than an hour in a 24 hour period… Further, during these online games immoral and irresponsible adverts are played and these can dangerously influence the minds of the children.” Huzoor Anwar (aba) emphasizes the importance of supervision, saying, “Parents must pay particular attention as to what the game that the child is playing is or what the programme that they are watching on television or online is and supervise this… Moreover, make it clear that the child has an allotted amount of screen-time, and they cannot watch outside of this time.”

In a world often driven by media that glorifies promiscuity, the harms associated with early and casual dating provide a compelling case for waiting and not engaging in premature romantic relationships. As parents and guardians, guiding young people towards making wise decisions about relationships is a profound responsibility. In the wise words of Hazrat Musleh Maud (ra), “A nation cannot be reformed without the reformation of its youth.” By nurturing a generation that values patience, respect, and thoughtful decision-making, there is hope for future generations to build healthier, more fulfilling relationships and contribute positively to society.

Engaging with children in discussions, arranging different activities, and guiding them towards programs that are academically and spiritually enriching foster wisdom in their young minds. As Huzur Anwar (aba) advises, “Talk to your children and explain to them that too much screen-time will be injurious to their eyesight and will impact their thinking… Also arrange different activities for them, speak to them, sit with them, hold discussions with them, and if they still insist, then try to show them such programmes online or on the television which will improve them academically and spiritually and will also enable them to gain wisdom.”



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