According to new data released by the CDC teens in American high schools aren’t drinking, dealing drugs or having sex nearly as much as we did.
Factors such as smaller family sizes, the internet boom and a spike in youth anxiety have all played a role.
Parents are generally spending more of their attention on fewer kids and there is a growing expectation that kids attend college. This closer monitoring of parents and high standards for securing a spot at a top university gives less room for the typical risk behavior of the past, according to a new study by Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.
Note: Before moving on, a brief reality check. Not sure where the CDC did its research, but it sure wasn’t with the kids around here.
Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the City University of New York, says technology also likely plays a role, although the trends began before the popularization of the internet. Smartphones have shifted social interactions online rather than in person. It’s also introduced a new perfectionist culture of carefully curated lives viewed through social media.
Anxiety may have something to do with this trend. Accorded to research by Pew, teens were the most likely to say stress and anxiety were of major concern for their peers — more than drug addiction, bullying or poverty.
Others note that kids are delaying the responsible things, such as dating, driving, working, marriage and having children.
A study by the APA noted that this extreme anxiety stems from pressures to perform academically, uncertain financial futures, impending climate change, publicized mass shootings and pressure to craft a perfect image on social media.
We put young kids, young teens and young adults in this existential crisis of uncertainty. That’s the world we’ve thrown them into. And then we ask them, why are you so anxious? And why aren’t you doing more drugs and drinking more and having sex? — Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary
Money and work are common stressors for Gen Z as well. More than eight in 10 (81 percent) of Gen Zs between the ages of 18 and 21 report money as a source of significant stress, with nearly as many (77 percent) saying the same about work.
Nearly two in three Gen Zs ages 15 to 17 (63 percent) report their families not having enough money is a significant source of stress. For more than three in 10 Gen Zs, personal debt (33 percent) and housing instability (31 percent) are a significant source of stress, while nearly three in 10 (28 percent) cite hunger or getting enough to eat.
Meanwhile, school districts such as Northampton are extending school hours, taking away valuable downtime. Members of the school board have said that the extra time should be spent on extra projects, which is sure to reduce stress.
“We are dealing with the best-educated generation in history. But they’ve got a brain dressed up with nowhere to go.” — Timothy Leary
This seems to fall in line with what we are seeing in the wider culture, kind of this hatred of fun and the enjoyment of acquiring stuff for your life. These hapless young fools have even been
Would the complete legalization of marijuana help relieve some of this stress?
The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world. ― Carl Sagan
So it goes.