Why Teen Anxiety is Rising (Fast) and What You Can Do About It

By: Kristin Martineau | April 3, 2019

Anxiety in teens is rising at an alarming rate.  Data collected from The National Survey of Children’s Health showed a 20% increase in the diagnosis of anxiety for kids ages 6-17 between 2003-2012.

Anxiety disorders now effect 25% of teenagers.

Why?

Here are a few of several factors:

  1. Social media – it creates a skewed version of reality. Kids compare their flawed, sometimes boring, not picture perfect lives to what they see on social media.  Their brains accept what they see there as truth, and they don’t measure up. Hold out as long as you can before you allow your children social media access.  At some point they have to learn to navigate a world with social media, but expecting them to be capable of that at age 12 is setting the stage for anxiety. 
  2. Smartphones- are an easy, always available source of entertainment and distraction.  Feeling sad? Just scroll on IG and you can just ignore those feelings. Bored? There’s a game in your pocket.  Our brains crave dopamine and phones provide it.  When use becomes excessive it interferes with face to face relationships, education and replaces other activities. Again- hold out as long as possible. I know many parents want their kids to have phones for safety reasons (me included) but you must limit access to internet and apps. Increase their access as they show responsibility and control.  It’s much easier to slowly widen their sphere of responsibility than to take control back after they show they can’t manage it.  
  3. Lack of coping skills- when you can dull your feelings by getting on your phone or eating a snack you don’t learn how to manage negative emotion.  There are so many readily available ways to avoid feeling bad.  What we resist, persists folks.  It doesn’t just go away because you avoid it.  Teach your children that feeling bad sometimes is ok. Allow them to experience negative emotions and teach them coping skills.  Model emotional coping skills.  If you don’t know how or aren’t sure how to help your children do this please sign up for a free 30 min consult session with me. It is so imperative to your child’s mental health that I will teach you how to do it, no strings attached.  
  4. Lack of failure- many parents today are so quick to rescue their children from failing. They race to the school to deliver the science fair project their kid forgot, they buy another balloon when the first one popped, they blame the teacher for the child’s bad grades.  We are teaching our kids they can’t fail and it’s a problem if they do.  Your kids will fail. Either they will do it now when they stakes aren’t so high, or they will fail when they are adults and it matters much more.  Failure doesn’t mean something has gone wrong. It’s how we learn. Please stop robbing them of learning. 
  5. Kids stay indoors – Did you know there is such a thing as “Nature Deficit Disorder”? Most of our kids suffer from it.  Our bodies are designed to move, to be outside, get fresh air, be in the sunshine. Kids need to free play, get dirty and explore.  Go outside with your kids.  Adults don’t spend enough time outside and our kids are following suit.  Let your kids get dirty. Require play time before screen time. 

If you or your children are struggling with anxiety, CLICK HERE to schedule a free call with me.  There isn’t anything more important than your mental health and I can teach you how the skills you need to manage it.

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