The surge in American teens experiencing dissatisfaction and inadequacy is linked to widespread digital technology adoption, highlighting concerning trends.
A Great Depression Lookback!
The University of Michigan conducted a study, as emphasized in the book of psychologist Dr. Jean Twenge, “Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and Silents,” which has exposed an alarming trend in teenage mental health.
This phenomenon is comparable to the Great Depression; however, rather than economic turmoil, the influence of digital tools and gadgets is the reason for teens to be in a downward spiral of depression and hopelessness.
Numbers being doubled
The study elaborates that nearly half of the teenagers express statements such as “I can’t do anything right,” “I do not enjoy life,” and “My life is not useful.” This phenomenon has numerically doubled over the past decade.
As an expert in generational psychology, Dr. Twenge cites that these findings are staggering, and the guardians of these teenagers should be alarmed by the declining mental well-being of their children.
Hot apps producing not-so-hot results
Conducted yearly since 1991, the study involves gathering information through surveying 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade students across the United States of America.
Although the data remained relatively stable until around the year 2012, a drastic upward trend was noticeable in the following years.
Specifically, the prevalence of agreement with the statement “I do not enjoy my life” has skyrocketed from less than 20% to half of the involved students.
Spotting The Correlation
Researchers correlate the alarming data with the proliferation of platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
The core of this mental health crisis is attributed mainly to the evident influence of social media and excessive screen time of teenagers in this generation.
It is suspected that the subsequent popularity of smartphones around the early 2010s has cultured depressive symptoms among teenagers.
Real Life vs. Social Media
This crisis leaves a major concern in the excessive dedication of teenagers to screens, with the majority spending up to nine hours a day doing online activities.
This internet drive overpowers traditional activities such as face-to-face interactions, dating, and even essential developmental goals like acquiring a driver’s license or seeking employment.
An alarming discovery for Girls
Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok tend to display issues specific to girls, resulting in unhealthy comparisons and the thirst for social validation measured by the number of followers and likes.
This issue majorly impacts girls, contributing to undeniable damage to their mental well-being as compared to boys.
Not Just a Matter of Emotions
A pessimistic mind can have damaging consequences. Approximately a third of teenage girls have seriously considered ending their lives, and youth self-harm hospitalizations have reportedly increased by 163% over the past decade.
Shockingly, s*icide is now the second cause of death among American Teenagers.
There is Hope
On the bright side, experts, such as Dr. Twenge, presented critical procedures to counter this alarming trend.
One of the proposed aids is raising the minimum age for social media users to the age of 16, considering the concerning impact it can have on younger users.
Tackling this sensitive issue requires comprehensive methodologies that involve the concerned stakeholders, such as parents, educators, policymakers, and technology companies.
With their collaboration in developing a healthier digital environment for the next generation, the current data revolving around the link between social media and teenagers’ depression can potentially be reversed.
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With the strong force of digital connectivity and social media’s allure, it is essential to remember that genuine self-worth and fulfillment are anchored to real-world experiences, personal growth, and meaningful relationships.
Balancing screen time with face-to-face interactions, sports, hobbies, and overall self-improvement can pave the way for strong and stable well-being both emotionally and mentally, fostering resilience against the pressures of the ever-growing digital age.
This article was produced by TPR Teaching. Source.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
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