Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders The New Realities Your Students Are Facing

The New Realities Your Students Are Facing

Super stressed. I think it is safe to say today’s teens are the most stressed out generation in history. The American Psychological Association found that millennials (aged 18 to 35) are significantly more stressed than the “average” stress level, while older generations struggle less with stress. Chap Clark in Hurt 2.0 found “that mid-adolescents are about as busy as humanly possible. They average five to six hours of sleep a night. The busyness they embrace keeps them from having to reflect on their dreams, their relationships and their lives.”

Articles in the Business Insider, Fusion.net and The New York Daily News all have talked about how and why this teenage generation is really stressed out.

The pursuit of fame. Studies show there has been a 30 percent increase (in the last 30 years) in teenage narcissism. More kids today think they are more awesome than everyone else. Many teens struggle with narcissism because they are constantly faced with social media, reality tv and technology that tells them they are stars and entitled to do and say whatever they want.

Children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1 value. Fame ranked 15th in 1997. —Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace

Self-diagnosed ADHD. The emerging generation is bombarded by multiple streams of digital information, and the overflow is overwhelming students. Everything electronic is vying for bits and pieces of their time, and they’re clueless about how to time manage and prioritize tasks. The result is that students often self-diagnose themselves as ADHD as a cop-out, which gives teens permission not to focus. Barkley, an ADHD scholar, notes that “teens with ADHD generally begin high school with serious delays in self-regulation skills, weak self-discipline, and an inability to analyze and reflect on their own behavior and actions.”

Early puberty. Teenage guys are starting puberty up to two years earlier than decades ago, new data show. Teenage girls reach puberty today at earlier ages than were ever recorded previously. Nutritional and other environmental influences may be responsible for this change. For example, the average age of the onset of menstrual periods in girls was 15 in 1900. By the 1990s, this average had dropped to 12 and a half years of age. In another words, our teens are biologically and psychologically becoming adults faster.