Adolescence is synonymous with change. Children slowly start becoming adults, forming their own peer relationships and becoming independent beings. It is also a time where we may question the world around us, in our quest to find our identity.
Nowadays we are bombarded by a barrage of content, presenting different and often conflicting portrayals of standards, beauty and happiness. Different social platforms have enabled us to gain more information than ever before; also allowing us to showcase our beliefs and opinions to the rest of the world. Through the internet, we are given the power to access any piece of information we desire at the click of a button. But does this come at a cost? For teenagers, the digital world has brought up unforeseen challenges that make this already turbulent time even more trying.
It is no secret that teenagers nowadays are suffering more from mental health issues such as low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. These phrases are often used interchangeably and society has seemingly accepted these terms as part of normal, everyday life. However, if we take a minute to reflect we may realise that certain issues teenagers are facing right now are far greater than ever before.
Perfection is an unattainable state where a person becomes the best version of themselves, free of all mistakes and self-doubt. Seems slightly unrealistic doesn’t it? However if you take a look at several influencers on social media, teenagers are often following people who are highly successful, which unknowingly puts extra pressure on these young adults as for them, this is what success looks like.
Therefore, unsurprisingly, teenagers start to form unrealistic goals such as looking fabulous all the time and sporting different brands in order to feel accepted. Failing to meet certain ideals may also lead to cyberbullying; an epidemic which is making so many teens fall prey to keyboard heroes who may brutally criticise and affect an individual’s self-worth.
Unfortunately, these are not the only pressures these young people are facing. At home, teenagers might not have the right support system due to a number of reasons. Financial difficulties and marital problems often leave teenagers caught in the middle of a war they never wanted to be a part of. In turn, teens may resort to risky behaviour as a way to deal with these problems, often trying to mask their pain. Some teens may fall down the rabbit hole of substance abuse and addiction which may offer some momentary relief and distraction from it all. This is often coupled up with absenteeism from school and a general lack of motivation.
Gen Z was thrust into the digital world and its vastness. As adults, it is a must that we teach our children from a young age the risks and dangers of social media and how to safely be a part of it, while also respecting other people and think twice before posting online. When we were younger, our mistakes, our embarrassing moments weren’t recorded and shared a million times over. Unfortunately, nowadays such moments might be caught on Snap Chat and then on Tik Tok and than turned into a meme. Children, and even teenagers, cannot foresee the damage that such an action might bring about. Therefore, it is up to us parents and adults to teach and educate them.
In the end, it’s important to appreciate our teenagers with their many strengths and address their weaknesses with love and compassion. After all, the most primal need all humans possess is to connect with others and form healthy relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime.