The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways, but a particularly sensitive subset has been teens. The lack of school and structure, which might have been fun during the first couple of months in the pandemic, has long disappeared. Teens are now coping with full schedules and school work, piled atop of all kinds of pandemic concerns.
This new generation of teenagers has grown with social media, an element that has increased social anxiety in people of all ages. For teens, however, social media has played a pivotal role in a suggestible moment in their lives, increasing their anxiety and depression and making them compare themselves to their peers, thinking that all of them are having a better time than they are. It’s the epicenter of FOMO.
In a pandemic, these anxieties are increased tenfold.
According to a national poll, 46% of parents claim their teenagers mental health has worsened. The CDC reports that the amount of 12 to 17-year-olds in ER rooms for mental health reasons has increased 31% in 2020 when compared to numbers in 2019.
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After speaking with experts and going over data, the New York Times reports that while remaining isolated and away from school is a big stressor, the biggest problem for teens is the pressure they face to achieve their goals.
Per the Times: “Nearly half of all students reported that the pressure to do well in school had increased since 2019, and over half said their school-related stress overall had risen. Grades, workload, time management, lack of sleep and college fears were the most commonly cited sources of stress. These findings held across socioeconomically diverse schools.”
Many students say their parents have maintained their expectations with grades and behaviors throughout the pandemic, not accounting for the extra stress they’re exposed to.
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When it comes to facing these problems and treating teens, CNN provides some helpful tips. “I encourage parents to look for any marked change in their child’s mood or behavior due to anxiety and worry. Stressed kids can present as irritable, avoidant, even withdrawn. And/or their stress might manifest in physical symptoms, including fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, stomach issues and difficulty sleeping.”
It’s recommended to keep an eye on teens’ behaviors, noticing if they’re short tempered, getting angrier than usual or displaying other behaviors that are out of the norm. Talking, listening and creating a safe space for teens might help them sort out their feelings and feel safe.