Irritability? Lack of concentration? Insecurity? Physical complaints?
If your teenager is showing any or all of these symptoms, they are most likely suffering from the growing phenomenon of teenage angst. Studies show that the angst and anxiety diagnoses are steadily increasing as we see changes in social media, helicopter parenting, and kids feeling overwhelmed by all they are (or think they are) expected to accomplish.
If you would like to explore these concerns further, please join us FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8 at 6:30 PM AT CHARLOTTE PREPARATORY SCHOOL for a screening of the new documentary which features Michael Phelps titled, “Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety.”
A panel discussion will follow on why these issues have reached a critical level and how we as a society and as families can work to bring awareness to this growing concern. This event is appropriate for ages 11 and up.
Let’s take a look at your typical high school weekend vs. your child’s; Can you spot the differences?
A typical Friday night in the spring of my sophomore year in high school:
I come home from school and gossip on the phone with my best friend and we decide to go out to dinner later that night. We plan to call our friend group, but my sister demands that it is her turn for the phone…HER friend has been trying to call our phone for hours and it only rings busy. She pulls the phone with its long cord into her room and slams the door. Guess I won’t be calling anyone else before dinner? My friend and I meet for dinner and left our only option for communicating with our friends at home hanging on the kitchen wall. Since we have no way of knowing if we are missing a party, so we decide to go to Blockbuster and rent Top Gun for the 10th time and then stop by the 7-11 for lots of candy. The next day we find out that there was actually a party at Nancy’s house, but we don’t really know who went or what happened other than what our friend shared the next morning. We are disappointed that we missed out on a fun night and have our feelings hurt that we weren’t included, but we have minimal details of what happened and we did enjoy our dinner at Chili’s and Tom Cruise and the M and M’s.
A typical Friday night in the spring of my daughter’s sophomore year:
She comes home from school and I ask her what her plans are. She irritatingly says she doesn’t know “the plan” yet all the while her phone is beeping and buzzing so hard it slips off the kitchen counter. I ask her if she is going to call someone to make a plan and she looks at me like I am speaking another language. “Mom, nobody CALLS anybody! My group snapchat is talking about going to John’s party, but he is a senior so that might not work. My text chain is saying they want to go eat Mexican, but Anne is on that chain and Lizzie doesn’t want her to come so we are forming a new chain without her and maybe we will do that.” She goes to her room to send twenty photos of her outfits to her friends so they can pick the cutest one, eventually leaving the house still unsure of her plans. Some nights I text her repeatedly asking where she is. Some of my friends have downloaded apps that track their children’s every move, but I choose to give her a little privacy and simply text until I get confirmation. The next morning she is frustrated because someone dropped the Snapchat group and she didn’t realize that they all did go to John’s party and she now sees on her Instagram story that they had a fabulous time. She is in tears because she did go eat Mexican and they didn’t include Anne, but Anne was the first person to “like” the picture of them all wearing sombreros and so of course Anne knew she was excluded and now is calling my daughter crying. Meanwhile my daughter is behind on sending snapchat photos to over six hundred of her closest friends and if she doesn’t respond soon, they will lose their record of the most consecutive days of sending pictures. And she also needs to like and comment on all of her friends Insta pics because they obviously had the night of their lives as well. By the time she goes back to school on Monday she will be exhausted from managing this life behind her life.
According to an article published in Time Magazine in 2016, “Adolescents today have a reputation for being more fragile, less resilient and more overwhelmed than their parents were when they were growing up…“
Anxiety and depression in high school kids have been on the rise since 2012 after several years of stability. It’s a phenomenon that cuts across all demographics–suburban, urban and rural; those who are college bound and those who aren’t. They are the post-9/11 generation, raised in an era of economic and national insecurity. They’ve never known a time when terrorism and school shootings weren’t the norm. They grew up watching their parents weather a severe recession, and, perhaps most important, they hit puberty at a time when technology and social media were transforming society.”
An article written in the Washington Post on May 10, 2018 also highlights the influence and impact social media has on teen anxiety. “When it comes to treating anxiety in children and teens, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the bane of therapists’ work. With (social media), it’s all about the self-image — who’s ‘liking’ them, who’s watching them, who clicked on their picture,” said Marco Grados, associate professor of psychiatry and clinical director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Everything can turn into something negative…” Anxiety, not depression, is the leading mental health issue among American youths, and clinicians and research both suggest it is rising. “There is definitely a rise in the identification of kids with serious anxiety,” says Phillip Kendall, Director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University.
While anxiety disorders are becoming more prevalent, what are we as a society doing to better understand the causes and the symptoms, while acknowledging that anxiety is a real issue that impacts everyone in some way.
By partnering with Charlotte Prep for the screening of Angst, we hope to raise awareness and generate open dialogue around this important subject. Please bring your family to learn more and focus on change. Free tickets are available on www.charlotteprep.org. Hope to see you on February 8th!
Garrett Educational Consulting, LLC is a full-service, academic consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. With over twenty years experience in education and counseling, Katie Garrett guides and supports students and families that are navigating important academic decisions. Services include all aspects of academic advising, comprehensive college planning, independent day school consulting, and boarding school application guidance.