The journey from childhood to adulthood presents unique challenges. Your teen will have to deal with at least one teenage social issue before becoming an adult.
Unfortunately, the new generation of teenagers is exposed to struggles that past generations never experienced. Some of the 21st-century teenage issues featured in this post are not entirely modern, but they have been changed to a whole new level, thanks to digital technologies.
Nowadays, teens are glued to their screens for at least 7 hours a day, excluding school work. The high interaction with electronic devices influences their life in many ways, including how they get entertained, communicate, date, sleep, and exercise.
Without further ado, here are the top teenage social issues every parent or guardian should know.
1. Teen Depression
Sure, teen depression is not a 21st-century teenage social issue, but it deserves more attention than many parents and guardians think.
Research shows that about 13% of teenagers globally are at risk for depression. The depression cases of American teens have been on the rise over the years, with girls experiencing three times more risk than boys.
Depressed teens may become socially withdrawn, have trouble sleeping, experience a drop in grades, and more.
A section of experts says digital technologies is partly to blame for this issue affecting teens. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and doubt your self-worth when you’re constantly exposed to the unrealistic standards prevalent in the digital world.
Other researchers believe depression stems from young girls and boys spending a lot of time on their devices in isolation. They develop FOMO or fear of missing out.
These issues make teens experience a high level of anxiety and stress, and they’ll have limited time to engage in physical or fun activities with friends.
Coming together for sports, recreational activities, performances, etc., could help them beat depression in the first place.
Besides exercising with peers, teens should get enough sleep, embrace a healthy diet, and seek expert help from a mental health professional to manage depression.
2. Sexual Activity
Sexual activity is a sensitive teenage social issue that needs to be dealt with carefully. Most states mandate sex education in public schools. However, parents must also have a hand in creating proper sexual awareness in teens without being judgmental.
Don’t assume your child is too young to be sexually active. A survey examining adolescent sexual behavior in 2015-2017 found that about 40% of teens aged 15-19 engaged in sexual intercourse.
The numbers might have declined over the years, but 40% is still high. There’s the risk of early pregnancies and STI transmission. And although birth rates continue to drop almost every year, at least half of the new STI cases involve young females and males aged 15-24.
Nobody deserves to be subject to any form of bullying. Unfortunately, approximately 22% of teens between 12 and 18 years old are victims of bullying. Victims might feel embarrassed, scared, depressed, or trapped in a world of hopelessness. Others develop suicidal thoughts.
It is heartbreaking that we cannot break the cycle of bullying. We will always have a few egotistical, insecure, and hostile individuals, regardless of the rules and guidelines. Teen bullying usually occurs in areas with little or no adult supervision. The hot spots include:
· Bathrooms or locker rooms
· School buses
With many teens using social media, bullies find it easier to harass many of their victims online. That’s why cyberbullying has surpassed traditional bullying as the most type of harassment that teens face today.
Even though it’s not easy to do away with this teenage social issue, you can educate your children on how to counter it if they become a target.
As a victim, here are some of the strategies experts that could help you:
· Avoid places where potential bullying encounters occur. Or limit interactions with bullies. If it’s cyberbullying, teens should block anyone trying to send offensive messages or posting hurtful comments.
· Ignore verbal abuse from the bullies. Act like you don’t care, even if you feel like the bullies are getting on your last nerve. You don’t need to prove they’re wrong during a bullying encounter.
· Walk away with confidence towards a safe place if a bully makes a move on you.
· Defuse insults with humor or positive statements or actions.
· Share your encounters with an adult you trust and ask for help. Remember seeking help doesn’t make you weaker. It’s a courageous move.
· Call trained professionals anonymously if you feel scared or depressed.
4. Social Media
Spending time on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok can be rewarding. Teens can communicate with peers to create meaningful connections while exposing themselves to current events.
However, there’s a dark side to using social networking sites.
Social media can be highly distracting. Some teenagers who use social media find it challenging to focus on their studies and other important activities. What’s more, being glued to the screens late into the night could also mean sleep deviation.
Another issue with Facebook and Twitter is that teens get exposed to cyberbullying, blackmailing, peer pressure, and online predators.
Findings from one study revealed that spending at least 3 hours on social media could negatively affect teens’ mental health and well-being.
Preventing your child from using social media may not be the appropriate solution. Fortunately, there are several ways you can protect your teen, including:
· Educate the teens on the risks they face. Also, suggest ways to help them stay safe. For example, you could advise your daughter or son against befriending strangers and show them how to use the privacy settings.
· Explain what is and isn’t OK. Ensure your kid knows what they are allowed to share online. Discourage them from posting comments or messages with the intent to hurt, embarrass, harass, bully, or ruin anyone’s reputation.
· Openly discuss your expectations. And let your teen know you’ll be monitoring their online activities regularly to ensure they don’t fall short of your expectations.
· Set limits. Ensure your child understands when they cannot be active on social media. For instance, when it’s bedtime, they should follow the routine.
· Stay up to date on the latest social platforms, apps, and pages your young ones use.
While you can’t shield your teen from everything — no matter the precautions — implementing barriers to the use of social media is still worthwhile.
5. Academic Pressure
Research shows that about 61% of American teens aged 13-17 feel burdened to achieve good grades to join college. Unfortunately, 5% of them drop out of high school each year.
Even if your daughter or son remains optimistic and doesn’t quit, overcommitting to achieve academic goals can leave your teen emotionally drained.
Encourage your teen to be open with you about their challenges. And be ready to assist whenever you can. Ideally, you’ll want to reassure your teen that you’ll always love them regardless of what they score.
It’s best your teen stays motivated as much as possible to get through high school. A dropout’s lifetime earnings are about $200,000 less than that of a high school graduate and less than $1M than a college graduate. It’s a significant financial gap.
6. Peer Pressure Into Risky Behaviors
Adolescents are exploratory in many ways, and it’s normal for them to try to fit in to feel valued by friends. Even teens with the strongest personas may end up caving into some type of peer pressure.
While peer pressure isn’t a 21st-century teenage social issue, technology induces it. Since teens are constantly exposed to social media, it’s easier to feel pressured into displaying behaviors they usually wouldn’t entertain.
For instance, many teens fall victim to sexting. Sharing your sexual material— whether images, videos, or messages — poses damaging effects on a teen’s psyche. An ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend might share such sexual content with other people, which can be a source of ridicule.
Your teen may also be pressured into substance abuse. Simply spending time around friends who smoke cigarettes, marijuana, and drink alcohol could be too much temptation to overcome. And it doesn’t take too long to develop an addiction.
Following the legalization of marijuana, many teens believe the drug is not harmful as originally thought. As such, the daily use of marijuana among high school students increased, surpassing cigarettes.
Teen smokers are usually attracted to E-cigarettes because of the enticing flavors and less stigma attached to them. What’s more, they are easy to order online without a parent’s knowledge.
When it comes to alcohol consumption in high school seniors, there has been a decline. But about 29.3% of the teens admit to drinking within the past month.
You want to keep an open dialogue with your teen. Help them understand the dangers of sexting, drugs (including prescription drugs), and underage drinking.
Sometimes teens may realize they have made a mistake, but they are afraid to seek your help. Let your son or daughter understand you’ll listen to them and help them find a way out of their teenage social issue without overreacting or judging them.