Who are we kidding? Teenage depression, anxiety, and attention problems were off the charts before COVID.
National Institutes of Health studies indicated that nearly 1 in 3 of all adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. 33% with a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Let that sink in. Depression is high too, so is ADHD. This skyrocketing trend was happening before the pandemic.
The world has been a quickly evolving place especially for young people especially over the past 15 years. The technology boom has put revolutionary programs, gaming, and communication at our fingers 24:7 and the social media is OUT OF CONTROL.
The quote from Jurassic Park reminds me they “were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Providing teenagers and children constant access to online content and screens have been detrimental to mental health and learning.
Schools in general have also struggled to adapt to the teenagers where they are now. There is a mismatch in the gigantic and slow moving education system between the “all-in use of technology” and the old school tactics and policies that desperately need updating—to meet the needs of 2021 students.
Now I realize that there are amazing schools with incredible teachers out there. I see them, know them, am related to them, and think the world of them. This is not what I am talking about. There are systemic reasons that teens are struggling with learning and thriving exist and we need to address this now.
The next entries will focus on changes that need to be made in the school systems today and practical ways to actually do this.
No Nonsense Psychology in 2021 from Dr. Heather
Give the teenagers their stuff back NOW!
Adolescents are meant for selfishness. Because of where they are in development, their world should be all about me, me, me. They feel that a light is shining on them and them alone. Everyone is looking at me. No one understands me.
This is not to be confused with impolite teenagers. Most of the teens I know are lovely people who have been taught courtesy, politeness, and values. This is NOT what I am talking about. This almost makes it worse. Teens know how fortunate they are but are still feeling like crap. Why is that?
Well teens are supposed to be spending their time focused on school, friends, fun, dances, activities, sports, art, clubs, work, and all all-around bright futures. It’s magic time for teenagers and that is how it is supposed to be in this fleeting time of youth and vitality. Unfortunately, in one year’s time these things have been erased and instead have been replaced by a virtual world full of screens that are exacerbating problems with focus, depression, and anxiety.
So I am here to say it’s time to give the teenagers all of their stuff back. Right now.
Mental health depends on it.
(Disclaimer: We live in a free country. Obviously for those with health issues or other factors, it would still be up to individuals and families to opt into these activities or out of these activities based on their individual views and situations).