Launch into Wellness

Creating Your Own Path to Optimal Health and Wellness

 

As parents, we all want our children to grow into healthy, balanced, well-adjusted young adults living their best lives, happy and fulfilled. But is that even possible in the world we live in today?

Why now more than ever has mental health issues among youth and young adults become an epidemic? youth - challenges

I’m going to break down 3 challenges youth face today that in my opinion are contributing factors leading to mental health among these generations.

It’s no surprise when children are exposed to abuse, trauma, poverty or suffer the loss of an important person at a young age (such as a parent) this could very likely lead to mental health experiences in adolescence and into adulthood. Not only that, if they are born to parents who suffer from a mental health illness, the odds have now increased that we too will inherit it.

Challenges I believe impact our youth and young adults today are really quite simple. We’ve all heard of them and our kids are living them. They’re essentially fighting battles they don’t even know they’re in and the harsh reality is many of them will experience anxiety and depression as a result.

Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health disorders among youth and young adults. For more information on signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression head over to my post on What is Anxiety Disorders? Could I be at Risk?

WORLD OF TECHNOLOGY | IS IT A CATCH 22?

With technology developing at an alarming rate, if youth are not exposed to it and know how to live in the world of technology they will fall behind. In most cases the ipad, cellphones and computers are all introduced to children at a very young age, most likely they will have had exposure well before they even enter elementary school. young-child-technology

By the time youth reach high school, there had better be a computer/laptop in the home and they had better be proficient in typing. Cursive writing no longer matters, spell check will fix spelling errors and socialization now takes place all online via texting or social media.

Communication is done with electronic devices and the lack of face-to-face connection is having a negative impact on young people’s lives.

The significant amount of time spent online leads to lack of sleep in youth which can result in mood swings, anger, irritability, confused thinking and isolation which can also lead to anxiety and depression.

We can’t ignore or avoid the use of technology and as much as we want to protect our young people from the negative impact of it, sheltering them from the use of it could be holding them back from keeping up with their generational culture therefore leading to social exclusion, simply put it’s a catch 22.

 

social media - youth

 

SOCIAL MEDIA | NEGATIVE IMPACTS OUTWEIGH POSITIVE

Number 2 on my list is social media, while there maybe some benefits to social media, the negatives in my opinion outweigh way the positives.

Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter these are just a few social media platforms which I’m sure we’ve all heard of or have accounts set up on, myself included. As a parent, I find that I have to keep up with the newest social media trend in order to keep an eye on my 15yr old.

Being involved on social media opens up the door for teens and young adults to experience cyber-bullying, trolls, toxic comparisons, sleep deprivation and less frequent face-to-face contact with people.

Too much time scrolling through social media leads to depression and anxiety, studies have concluded this. Let’s break down some of the destructive factors associated with social media.

THE NEED FOR ACCEPTANCE: The need to gain ‘likes’ on social media adds pressure to teens, they may be apt to alter their appearance, engage in risky behaviors or challenges in order to achieve acceptance.

UNHEALTHY COMPARISONS: By constantly viewing the highlights of the lives of peers posted on social media teens can find themselves often comparing their lives to their peers and let’s face it, it’s difficult to avoid this. Everything from physical appearance to life circumstances is seen as successes or failures under a microscope on social media.

MINIMAL FACE TIME: Human connection is a powerful tool that builds skills that last a lifetime. When teens spend more and more time online rather than in person it’s difficult to build empathy and compassion.

CYBER-BULLING: Cyber-bullying is associated with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Females are more prone to these symptoms however males are not exempt.

As parents our only fight against social media and the impact it has on our children is to build them up, educate them and encourage face-to-face time rather than online communication most of the time.

We can lead by example and disconnect frequently ourselves to spend quality time communicating face to face with family and friends.

 

PARENTING WITH A PURPOSE | WHAT’S BEST FOR OUR YOUTH MAY NOT MAKE US FEEL GOOD

Lets look at number 3 on my list.  We want to protect our kids and keep them safe at all cost, and that’s our job, but could the way we parent our children be having an impact on their mental health and well being?

I’m guilty of it too, wanting to give my children everything I didn’t have growing up, wanting to protect them from every horrible experience and feeling I encountered as a child and young adult. As parents it’s like we’re hard wired to do so. But let’s stop and think about this for a minute, those hard times and difficult experiences ultimately shaped the people who we have become today.

Parents who cushion every aspect of their kid’s lives could be setting them up for failure when harsh reality sets in when they become young adults. Young children, teens and young adults need to fall, they need to fail and they need to hurt. We need to be there for them during these times, but we need to not take those learning moments away from them. hurt-youth-learn

Having high expectations for our children can also contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Our kids naturally want to please their parents but when the expectations are high and kids find it difficult to meet them, this can ultimately lead to feelings of failure or not being good enough.

As parents we need to not set the bar too high, lets face it, if they grow up healthy, happy and self-sufficient we ultimately did our job and that’s all we should be expecting of them. This in my books is spells success.

YOUTH CHALLENGES| WHAT’S A PARENT TO DO?

There are many contributing factors that come into play when it comes to youth mental health, I’ve chosen to focus on the 3 contributing challenges that in my opinion are impacting young peoples overall mental health and well being today.

If you believe your teen or young adult is suffering from anxiety or depression check out my post on Online Counseling; Therapy for how we live today, or better yet, have them check it out.  Youth and young adults today access the internet for pretty much any service they need, this is one more avenue that can be taken to access supports to assist with achieving overall wellness.

There is also now anxiety programs that can be downloaded along with activity work books to work through that can be helpful to young people (and adults).  You can access more information by clicking onto The Anxiety Healing Program link.

Ensuring our youth are educated in using technology responsibly and encouraging more face-to-face time with family and peers is key in ensuring they build empathy and compassion which is crucial to building human connection.

Encouraging our youth to find a balance between human connection and technology can help to minimize mental health experiences they may face. 

While I have based my opinion on studies completed, these three factors are my opinion only and are not a result of one study as a whole.

Why do you think mental health is becoming more prevalent in our youth today. What tips would you offer parents to help youth balance technology and face-to-face time? Do you try to give your children everything you didn’t have as a child?

 

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8 thoughts on “3 Challenges Youth Face Today | Fighting the Unseen Battle

  1. Very very very interesting post. It’s crazy how I totally agree with you in the 3 challenges you talked about.

    Technology are there, we don’t have the choice. Social media is a reality, we can only prepare them to correctly use them and to not believe everything they see. And your last point is so true, we have to let them live their experiences.

    I think I could add that the best thing we can do for them is to listen to them. I think parents neglect this part and it has a big impact on children. Listen.

    Thank you for sharing this, I loved to read you!

    1. Hi Audrey

      Thank you for your comment. I totally agree that we need to listen to our children, youth and young adults. They need to know that how their feelings are validated and that they matter.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment

  2. This is a fabulous compilation of the predominant ideas surrounding tech and youth development. As a nurse, one of the hardest conversations we have with parents is how to navigate the lure of technology with their children. It’s also hard because my generation grew up learning the development of tech – and our children watch us use it all the time. However, it’s interesting that many private schools ban personal tech altogether, while public schools continue to encourage the use of tech. The removal of tech from a childhood is beginning to be the badge of privilege that the possession of tech used to be. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    1. Hi Hilary

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is interesting how many private schools ban the use of technology devices, I could see the benefit of doing so during school hours for study purposes, but I’m pretty confident that when school is out most youth run straight to their backpacks for their smartphones. Having access to tech devices such as computers, laptops, ipads, cellphones and the internet is now a necessity for most. These are the times we live in.

      Thanks again,

      All the best 🙂

  3. Dear Tracy.
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to make towards wellness and happiness. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,
    Andrey

  4. What an eye-opening article. Our children are forgetting many skills which were mandatory for us as children. Social media socialization is killing our children’s social skills.

    Because of their lack of socialization skills, they suffer from low esteem. Mostly affects them when go out to meet others face to face, especially when they have to make conversation, but then have nothing to talk about.

    Scares me sometimes wondering what their children’s future will be like. As a parent I make sure we share at least one meal a day, even then I can see where my children’s skills are lacking.

    1. Hi Jagi

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you that our children’s communication skills are suffering as a result of social media and technology in general. You’re absolutely right about face to face contact being extremely awkward for a number of kids as a result. I’m glad to hear that you it priority to have one meal together with your family everyday, that is so important for your family’s overall well being.

      Warm regards,

      Tracy

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