As new generations emerge and go through schooling on the way to adulthood, there is always a unique set of challenges and issues that each generation have to deal with. Some of these issues are brought about by a number of contemporary influencing factors that can be found within society’s faster pace of life, while other issues have always been there yet have failed to be properly addressed until now.
The great advances in today’s social technology have definitely amplified some common generational struggles while also creating unique issues that no previous generation have ever had to deal with.
For instance, teens today struggle more with their interpersonal relationships than any previous generation and a lot of this dysfunction can be linked to the overuse of technology.
In fact, the average teen spends over nine hours each day using their electronic devices. Consequently, their social media habits and media consumption are changing the way they communicate, date, learn, sleep, exercise, and more. Here are the top 7 social problems teens struggle with every day.
Below are the top 7 issues facing our youth today. Add your suggestions to the comments. What do you think are the major issues facing the young people today?
Starting off with an age old struggle that most generations can identify with, Bullying has always been and will continue to be a problem within school systems. There are a lot of hopefuls out there that think bullying can be eradicated, and this unfortunately is just not a realistic stance on the problem.
As long as we have young, insecure and impressionable people being placed within a huddle of others that are experiencing the same fears and anxieties, there will always be cases of bullying in circulation. The best countermeasure is to educate young people in how to best deescalate and squash unwarranted confrontations.
The big change in the bullying landscape these days is the subcategory of Cyberbullying. Due to a large part of young people’s social life consisting of Social media, a lot of bullying these days now has a larger audience with acts of cyberbullying becoming almost theatrical displays of humiliation for online viewers.
In fact, cyberbullying is becoming the prevalent form of bullying these days simply because its harder for authority figures such as teachers to intervene and police such encounters, and the harassment isn’t limited to school hours, bullies have the ability to torment their victims around the clock.
The fact that bullies can use a tool created to connect people in order to further their reach of harassment is awful, yet there are ways to counteract such online attacks which can be viewed here
Also, you're looking for some qualified help in this area or if you know of someone else who is, here are some contacts below that can be of service to you:
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- ReachOut at au.reachout.com
Depression is an example of an adolescent issue that has always been around but has fortunately gained more public attention in more recent years. The taboo nature of acknowledging mental health problems is becoming more and more a thing of the past.
There are arguments for both sides on the topic of depression in teens, some argue that there isn’t actually an increase in case numbers but rather stronger data recordings in more recent years, while others argue that young people accessing social media during their formative years is a recipe for disaster, as young people at this point in their lives are on a journey of self-discovery, so for these young people to be constantly peering into a digital world of unrealistic standards they are sure to hinder their self-worth.
There are a number of other points to technology use that researchers have found to be a hindrance in young people developing mental fortitude, such as, FOMO and the interference it can be for adolescents from engaging in chapter building exercises such as team sports and other peer activities. These problems stockpile and leave adolescents feeling a stronger sense of loneliness and isolation.
Depressive disorders are treatable, and can often be remedied with a lot of practical steps, such as diet, exercise, sleep routine etc, but it's important to seek professional help. If your teen seems withdrawn, experiences a change in their sleep patterns, or starts to perform badly in school, schedule an appointment with your teen's physician or contact a mental health professional. Do not delay getting help for your teen if you notice these symptoms.
3. Sexual Activity
According to recent studies, approximately 40% of high school students are reported as being sexually active. While that is still a large percentage, the good news is that sexual activity in high school age students has actually declined over the last few decades.
While a reduction in teen birth rates is worth celebrating, it is also worth noting that more than half of all sexually transmitted diseases each year occur within the age bracket of 15-24 year olds.
There is no denying that Gen Z is a lot more switched on when it comes to health related decisions such as drugs, sex and alcohol but this certainly isn’t unanimous and it would be ignorant of most parents to simply assume their children are not sexually active. The best thing you can do is have a talk that is devoid of all judgement and parental pressures. This creates an approachable space in which your children can be vulnerable if need be.
4. Drug & Alcohol Use
Daily Marijuana use has increased in recent years within senior high schoolers to now exceed cigarette use. This is a result of updating legalisation laws creating a false perception around the harmful nature of drug use.
Meanwhile, other illicit drug use has been hitting record low numbers, with some on-going studies noting that from 2017 on, teen use of illicit drugs has been at its lowest point ever, as well as alcohol use & binge drinking showing a significant decline. This is once again a testament to Gen Z and their health conscious decision making around substances.
Despite the decline in alcohol consumption, 33.2% of high school seniors still report drinking alcohol within the past month.
While Drug & Alcohol use may not be a prevalent issue within the adolescent community, it still is an issue associated with dangerous results that is worth having regular conversations about the risks associated with drug use and excessive alcohol consumption. Talk to teens about the risks of underage drinking. Educate them about the dangers, including the fact that alcohol can take a serious toll on a teenager's developing brain.
When discussing drug use, don't forget to mention the dangers of prescription drugs also, as many teens do not recognise the dangers of taking a friend's prescription, popping a few pills that are not prescribed to them, or even becoming addicted to their own prescriptions.
Unfortunately, teens often underestimate how easy it is to develop an addiction. And they don't understand the risks associated with overdosing. Be sure you are talking about these risks on a consistent basis.
5. Academic Problems
In more recent years there has been an increase in school students dropping out of their senior years at high school, according to recent studies, high school dropouts are likely to earn $200,000 less over their lifetime compared to a standard high school graduate, which can obviously have a significant impact on a young person's future.
This increase in students vacating school early is not due to an increase in “troubled teens”, quite the opposite actually. Gen Z has been shown to have an overall more studious approach to their education, as a result however, some teens feel so much pressure to get into a good college that they're burning themselves out before they graduate from high school. One of the best ways to counteract this issue is for you to stay involved in your teen's education. Provide support and guidance where needed and overall let them know that final exams are not the be all and end all.
It’s hard for young people to apply unnecessary pressure to themselves if you continue to support them, demystify the stigma associate with exams, and simply let them know that you love them regardless of whatever results they receive.
6. Peer Pressure
Much like Bullying, Peer Pressure has been around for as long as groups of people have huddled together. However, peer pressure gets kicked up a notch when magnified by social media.
Sexting is one of the more extreme examples of online pressure adolescents are grappling with, as many of them do not understand the lifelong consequences that sharing explicit photos can have on their lives. Victims of sexting-related cyberbullying or "revenge porn" often discover that an ex didn't delete a message, photo or video at the end of their relationship. More people are continuing to hold onto these personal messages, and even share them with others!
Beyond sexting, young people are feeling the amounting peer pressure from others online to partake in cyberbullying and other destructive behaviours. Like many of these other online-related issues, one of the first practical steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of your child being involved in a peer pressured scenario is to simply reduce their availability to time online. I think we can all agree that whatever time we are dedicating towards being online right now, could very well be reduced to no real detriment.
Make sure your kids are not afraid to come to you when they screw-up. Demonstrate that you can listen without judging or overreacting and instead find healthy ways for them to make amends and move on.
7. Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be great ways for teens to connect with one another; but social media can be problematic for several reasons. For instance, social media can expose your teen to cyberbullying, online predators and so much more. And, while there are some benefits to social media, there are a lot of risks as well.
While a lot of social media companies are taking measures in order to reduce online risks for young viewers, it's important for parents to get involved as no-one has your kids best interests at heart more than you do.
Social media is inevitable unfortunately. If you were to completely cut your teens off from social media access, you would be putting them at a social disadvantage. No matter what precautions you take, statistically, your teens are still highly likely to be exposed to unsavoury people, unhealthy images, and sexual content online. Considering all of the potential risks and disadvantages that come with social media, the best thing you can do as a parent is educate your kids and enforce barriers of use.
Help your teens learn how to navigate social media in a healthy way. Talk about ways to stay safe online. And most importantly, stay in the know of what your teen is doing online. Educate yourself in the latest social apps, websites, and media pages that teens are using and make sure to implement steps and barriers in order to safeguard your teens online.
How to Talk to Your Teen
Bringing up any difficult subjects with your teen can feel uncomfortable. And your teen isn't likely to respond well to a lengthy lecture or too many direct questions. But having a conversation with your teen about difficult issues is not something you should shy away from.
Even when it seems like they are not listening, you are the most influential person in your teen's life. It is important to lay a strong foundation before the window of opportunity closes.
A good way to strike up a conversation around a topic of interest or other uncomfortable situations is to ask a question like, "Do you think this is a big issue at your school?"
Listen to what your teen has to say. Try not to be judgmental but make your expectations and opinions clear. It is important that your teen understands that you don't condone certain behaviours and that they know the consequences of breaking your rules.