Our teenage years are formative, but they’re also incredibly confusing. Particularly today, with such ready and instant access to information and social media, the interconnectedness of the world is creating all new and complex issues for teens today to deal with. Services like Instagram create incredibly high curated benchmarks for teenagers to live up to, and rhetoric and social commentary provided on Twitter and other social media platforms mean more and more people have voices that we’re hearing that we never did before. All of this is being bombarded onto already confused teenagers and creating a very confusing landscape. Let’s have a look at some of the biggest issues facing modern school teens today.
Social Media Is Also Social Competition
While it presents a really wonderful way to stay connected and to express oneself, the advent of social media also presents some very real problems.
The most prolific of these problems is the need to compete with what they see on social media. Large, influential creators on social media spend a huge amount of time and effort creating carefully curated profiles that show only the absolute best of their lives, appearances and possessions, and these kinds of influences have an untold impact on teenagers trying to live up to these benchmarks.
Of course, the issues don’t stop there. There are safety risks too, with teenagers being exposed to strangers who prey on their naivety. There is the ever-present looming possibility of a social media addiction that can interfere with teenage development, particularly emotional and physical development.
Sexuality Is No Longer Binary
Modern sexuality and the widespread acceptance of non-cisgender and non-heterosexual orientation means more teenagers have the freedom to are exploring these feelings and options than ever before, which is a great thing.
This sexuality freedom, however, means that the sexual maturation of teenagers is a far more complex thing than it ever has been. This comes with its own set of issues and considerations that we need to be sensitive to and prepared for.
It also opens the door for bullying from peers that might not accept the orientation of others.
Perhaps the most evolved of all issues facing teenagers today is bullying because the vectors of bullying have expanded to so many different things. Bullying is no longer just a physically bigger teenager picking on the smaller kids or peers shouting insults and gossip at each other. The same social media prevalence we spoke about earlier can be a platform where bullies can engage in things like cyberbullying, slut-shaming, and other behaviors.
With the increase in focus and awareness of mental health issues, the scope and awareness of teenage depression are increasing. To put the problem into perspective, studies show that as many as 3.2 million teenagers in the United States have had a major depressive episode in the last year. We are seeing a steep increase in reported cases of teenage depression and it’s a big concern. Girls are seemingly more susceptible to teenage depression with higher reported rates than boys, but it affects everyone.
Many things are considered to be contributing to today’s higher rates of depression in teenagers, but the suspected leading causes amongst researchers is the penetration of technology into our lives. Whatever the cause, being able to have an open conversation with your teenager can be the first step to dealing with their depression, but the intervention of a mental health professional should not be overlooked.
Communication Is Key
Being able to communicate with the modern teenager effectively and discussing some of the more sensitive subjects can be challenging and ultimately can feel quite uncomfortable. While Schools might provide counseling services, and those counselors will have expert knowledge provided by online masters programs school counseling, communicating and talking to teenagers shouldn’t be left to schools. You should be able to talk to your teens about these issues and the many others they face on a daily basis.
Being a teenager today is like walking through a minefield, and equipping teenagers with the right kind of information and influence is important to help them on their journey to adulthood. Being able to navigate the complexities of today’s world requires a strong support base. Being aware of the kinds of issues teenagers deal with today is the first step to creating a safe and supportive environment where teenagers can feel comfortable and thrive despite the pressures of being a teenager in these modern times.