Normally, I want to present my own original material. However, in the recent Time Magazine, there was a very informative article, titled “The Kids Are Not All Right”, written by Susanna Schrobsdorff. Every teenager and parent should read the article. But since many people do not have access to Time Magazine, I am going to highlight the key points in this blog.

 

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In the past several years there has been an explosion of increased anxiety, increased depression, and the act of self-cutting in our teenage population. Research shows that there are around 3 million teens who have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Further research reveals that there are over 6 million teens with anxiety disorder. In addition, for self-cutting, just the hashtag admissions of self-harm behavior have jumped to 2.4 million in the past year. Those statistics equate to a sizeable number of teenagers who are emotionally in turmoil.

 

In 90% of the cases the parents are totally unaware. On one hand, we live in a fast paced society where most parents only spend 4-20 minutes 1:1 with their teenager. The parents don’t leave work at the office; they bring it home. On the other hand, for those parents who attend their teenager’s extracurricular activities, they are equally in the dark. They may be sitting next to their teenager, but the son or daughter is lost in the social media world. Consequently, only around 20% of these teenagers receive treatment for their anxiety or depression.

 

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As parents, we have to realize that this population is post 9/11. For their whole life they have felt economic insecurity and national insecurity. They have witnessed ethnic conflicts, sexism, racism, school shootings, police shootings, random mass murder, and – on a global stage – constant wars with massive destructive. These teenagers are often thought to be more fragile, less resilient, and more overwhelmed, but we must remember the immense stress under which they live. Life is much more public. Competition is far stiffer. The pursuit of perfection (and success) has never been more challenging.

 

To make the challenge even more difficult, most teenagers will admit that there is a “no fine line” between their real world and their online world. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. And keep in mind that most kids make their lives look far better through social media than what they are. Many kids even photo-shop their posted pictures to make themselves look better. When the teenager turns away from this onlineworld, what do they find in the real world? Bullying. Targeting. Being an outcast. In either world, it is difficult to feel good about yourself or your future.

 

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So, what can you do? In my opinion, parents should make an effort to unplug their teenagers. Get them away to a family activity. Even dinner each night without the cell phone. Ask them for the high points and low points of their day. Or take them on family vacations. Or help them pursue passions that rescue them from all of the stress. Doing something you love, even for an hour each day, can greatly reduce the stress. That’s what most parents should do. Don’t aim for their admission to the best college. Instead, help your teenagers reduce the stress and increase the areas of their own happiness.

 

Susanna Schrobsdorff has her own recommendation – and I support them.

 

Talk about the real stuff …

 

Pay attention but don’t smother …

 

Resist getting angry …

 

Don’t put off getting help …

 

Treat the whole family …

 

So, good luck! We all need to help our children, especially our teenagers, in this chaotic, conflicted world. And this election did not help! We need to steer them away from societal expectations. We need to help them develop self-esteem and their own self-identity. We need to help them find a passion and a purpose, which insulates them from the world’s unkindness. If you need an example, read NBA All-Star Ray Allen’s “Letter to My Younger Self” on the Player Tribune.

 

http://www.theplayerstribune.com/ray-allen-letter-to-my-younger-self/

 

Read, educate yourself, and interact …

 

Good things can happen …

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