In societytoday teenagers are faced with more stress than adults. On a scale of ten, theaverage stress level for a teen is 5.8, whereas that of an average adult is 5.
1(“American Psychological Association Survey”). Is social media the main causeof stress in teenagers? Although factors such as social media, family life, andextra-curricular activities may contribute to teenage stress, one’s educationis the main cause due to reasons such as tests, homework, and collegepreparation. Stress is “a state of mental oremotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”(“Stress”). Stress can be negative when it causes a lack of sleep, depression,or changes in appetite. This negative stress takes a toll on mental andphysical health that can be detrimental if it is not managed well over anextensive period of time. However, stress can be positive and help to motivateteenagers to do better. Teenagers who manage stress well tend to succeed underpressure and excel in stressful circumstances (“American PsychologicalAssociation Survey”).
Many aspects of the lives of teenagerscan cause stress. One common stressor is social media. Within the past decadesocial media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have increasedin popularity and have begun playing a role in teenagers’ daily lives. Onereason social media can be stressful for teenagers is the pressure to post(McDaniels C1). They feel they need to be active on social media sites toretain followers and keep others updated on their lives. From posting stems the feeling of competition.Teenagers feel the need to compete with their peers and friends to determinewho has the superior life. Followers, numbers of likes and comments lead tocompetition with the desire to gain the most on posts (McDaniels C1).
Due tothis level of competition, cyberbullying has become another stressor thatresults from social media. Negative comments can lead to anxiety, depression,and more that can burden teenagers. Bullying on social media can lead to a lackof self-confidence and negative body image making everyday life more arduous(C1).
A second stressor for teenagers is theirsocial lives. One reason social life becomes a stressor for teenagers is becauseteenagers are expected to create and maintain meaningful friendships. Withdiffering school schedules and activities, teenagers may have to put excessiveeffort in to keep a friendship.
This may get more difficult the more thefriends’ schedules differ (“What Stresses Teens Out”). As a result, teenagersfeel stressed to keep up a correspondence and make plans. When this happens, friendsmay feel as if they were left behind. Similarly, when teens have more than onefriend group it may become difficult to be friends with all of them,principally when they do not get along well.
Friends who dictate who teenagerscan be friends with also create unnecessary stress as teenagers try not to hurtanyone’s feelings and may feel controlled by their friends (“What StressesTeens Out”). A third stressor that comes with the social life of teenagersis romantic relationships. Teenagers may feel stressed when having a boyfriendor girlfriend because of the need to take care of and make this person happy.They may face more stress if the person they are dating is not consideredpopular or is not liked by their friend (“What Stresses Teens Out”).
In somesituations, when in a relationship, friends of teenagers may feel left behind.This can cause more stress if teenagers struggle to balance friendships andromantic relationships. Romantic relationships can become expensive as well. Teenagersmay feel obligated to make money to pay for fancy dates or presents causingthem to feel unnecessary stress (“What Stresses Teens Out”). In addition to the aforementioned stressors, extracurricularactivities also cause stress for teens.
Teens may have a hard time balancingactivities or fitting the activities in which they are interested into theirschedules which could cause stress. Fitting friendships and relationships in teenagers’schedules along with sports and activities becomes difficult as well (“WhatStresses Teens Out”).Another significant stressor for many teenagers isfamily life. Teenagers may become stressed if they feel they cannot or struggleto fulfill the expectations put on them by family members (“What Stresses TeensOut”). For teenagers whose parents were high achieving students, they may beexpected to be a high achieving student as well and feel stressed to strive tothis level of achievement.
This is also similar to the pressure families put onteens to succeed. For example, a first generation college student may feelpressured to graduate and get employed causing stress (“What Stresses TeensOut”).Teenagers who come from broken homes are more likelyto have academic, behavioral, and psychological issues (Lutrario). A brokenhome is defined as “a family in which the parents are divorced or separated”(“Broken Home”). Similar to low performing students, teenagers from brokenhomes are more likely to drop out of school. Family life can be extremelystressful for teenagers from broken homes due to relationship issues and anabsence of one of their parent figures, a situation which teenagers who comefrom traditional family do not face (Lutrario).
A nontraditional family is defined as “a family wherethere is single parenthood, cohabitation, same-sex families, or polygamy”(“What is a Non-Traditional?-Definition of Options”). Teenagers who come fromnon-traditional families face some of the problems faced by teenagers frombroken homes. Teenagers from single-parent families are similar emotionally tochildren of conflicted traditional families. Robert Rector, a senior researcherat the Heritage Foundation, says “Children living outside marriage are seventimes more likely to experience poverty and are 17 times more likely to end upon welfare and to have a propensity for emotional problems, discipline problems,early pregnancy and abuse” (qtd.
in Kantrowitz and Wingert 46). Emotionalproblems and discipline problems can make social life and school more stressfulfor teenagers from single-parent homes.Time management can be another key stressor forteenagers. With school and extra-curricular activities comes deadlines.Deadlines can cause teenagers to feel as if there is not enough time or thatthey are under pressure (“What Stresses Teens Out”). It can be very difficultfor teenagers to keep up with work, school, and extra-curricular activities.They easily can become ill-equipped for tests and other schoolwork if they puttoo many activities and responsibilities into their schedules.
Multitasking isalso difficult for teenagers as the United States is a monochromic culture. Thismeans that the culture of the United States focuses on performing one specifictask at a time rather than multiple tasks. A final reason time is a keystressor is that it can lead to a lack of sleep. Teens who stay up late doinghomework or playing sports often do not attain a good amount of sleep regularly(“What Stresses Teens Out”). Despite all of these stress-inducing factors, schoolis the most prominent stressor for a majority of teenagers. One reason schoolis such a large source of stress is homework (“What Stresses Teens Out”). Onethird of teenagers worry most about homework (“What Stresses You AboutSchool?”). Parents also notice the stress their children face from homework.
Twenty-fourpercent of parents said homework was a contributing issue or major cause oftheir teenager’s stress (Neighmond). A second academic stressor is GPA andgrades. Performing well on schoolwork, homework, and tests is extremelyimportant to many students.
Teenagers can become stressed if they do notreceive the grades or GPA that they desire. They may also stress about bringingup their grades or GPA either because of personal motivations or pressure fromparents (“What Stresses Teens Out”).Parent pressure on academics can contribute significantlyto why school is the biggest stressor for teenagers (“What Stresses TeensOut”). Bryce Goldsen, a teenage student, said, “Most of my stress comes fromthe pressure to perform well day in and day out” (qtd. in Reday). It is goodfor parents to encourage their teenagers to perform well in school, but forsome teenagers the expectations their parents place on them can cause more harmthan good. Sandra Gadsden, another teenage student, said, “My mother says Iwon’t get into a good college if I don’t do well on the test” (qtd.
in Hardy20). Parents contribute to their teenager’s stress by putting academics overfood, sleep, and comfort. Some also allow too many extra-curricular activitieswithout helping their teenagers to prioritize and budget their time (20).The pressures from test-taking also contribute to thestress teenagers experience from school (“What Stresses Teens Out”). Standardizedtests are required in many states including New York. Campbell, a teacher ofeighth grade students in North Carolina, said, “I have probably, during athree-day period, about 15 or 20 cases where kids get sick during the tests.That’s a pretty high rate.
As the tests start, they literally fall apart. Itwould break your heart” (qtd. in Hardy 18-23). Students often feel that testsare “make-or-break” scenarios which leads to stress (Reday).College is another factor that contributes to schoolas a stressor (“What Stresses Teens Out”). Now more than ever there is an earlyfocus on college and future career plans that can be daunting to teenagers.Worrying about plans for the future and how their current academic performancewill affect college and career choices can be extremely stressful and worrisomefor some teenagers (Reday).
The fear of failure contributes to why school is thebiggest stressor for teenagers (“What Stresses Teens Out”). This fear is mainlycaused by societal pressures, such as achieving good grades, gaining acceptanceinto a good university, and finding a good job. John Holt, a distinguishededucator and education writer, said in 1964, “Adults destroy the intellectualand creative capacity of the children…above all by making them afraid, afraidof not doing what other people want, of not pleasing, of failing, of beingwrong” (qtd. in Hardy 18). In addition to societal pressures, this fear offailing for teenagers is caused by many other factors as well. First, someschool climates gave become too large and impersonal. In this case, teenagersmay not feel they have anyone to go to for help and feel that without qualityrelationships with teachers they are unable to succeed (18).
Second, thenationwide effort to increase standards has a negative effect by increasingpressure on teenagers. Finally, the fear of failure undercuts self-esteem andteenagers may not be confident in themselves and their intellectual capabilitybecause of this (18).Social issues that come with school can cause stressfor teenagers in both public and private schools. Many teenagers focus onfitting in and on their friendships and romantic relationships in school(Reday). Some struggle with the fear of being teased or judged because of howmuch teenagers’ social lives contribute to the high school experience.
Relatedto social life, one fourth of teenagers struggle with appearance issues atschool (“What Stresses You Out About School?”). Worrying about these socialpressures within school can become very stressful.Forty-five percent of teenagers are stressed byschool pressures (Neighmond). However, the stress that comes from academics canlook different for all students. Stress differs especially between highachieving students and low performing students. For high achieving students,schools have become a more stressful environment and many teenagers cannothandle the pressure.
High achieving students stress to get into a top collegeand often load themselves with too many advanced placement courses as a result(Hardy 19). They also usually participate in an overwhelming amount ofextracurricular activities and fill most of their schedule. High achievingstudents tend to only find As and 100s to be acceptable and can stress becauseof the high standards to which they hold themselves (19).
For low performing students, stress comes simply fromtrying to stay in school. Many of these students face grade retention which hasproven to decrease academic success while increasing the dropout rate forteenagers. The stress of not knowing whether they will finish high schoolincreases anxiety (Hardy 19). Low performing students thus face uniqueproblems. For them the first highest stressor is losing a parent, second is goingblind, and third is grade retention. The stress of grade retention links backto the fear of failure and pressure to succeed (19).
This is because graderetention means a student failed to reach what the school views as successnecessary to move onto the next grade level.There are many real life examples which confirm thatschool is the main stressor for teenagers. One student, Nora, is in high schooltaking mainly college-level courses. Her mother reports that she is alwaystired, irritated, and suffers frequent headaches as a result of her high stresslevels caused by school (Neighmond). A similarly motivated student, BrettaMcCall of Seattle, says, “Academic stress has been a part of my life ever sinceI can remember. This year I spend about 12 hours a day on homework. I’m homeright now because I was feeling so sick from stress I couldn’t be at school” (qtd.
in Neighmond). Another student, Kelly, experienced symptoms of stress in middleschool and was diagnosed with a panic disorder and anxiety disorder in highschool. Her mother said this stress stems from academics rather than socialissues or bullying. Kelly said, “There’s this mentality of, ‘You’re doing sowell, why are you complaining?'” (Neighmond). Her chronic stress led to a senseof panic and paralysis.Many statistics prove education is the biggeststressor for teenagers. When surveying teenagers about the causes of stress intheir lives and which is the biggest factor, “homework and school” was thelargest stressor with fifty-five percent of the surveyed teens choosing it asthe biggest cause of stress in their lives (“What Stresses Teens Out”).
“Parentsand family” were the second biggest stressor for teenagers with fifteenpercent, “social life” with nine percent, “time” with eight percent and “sports”with four percent. Nine percent of the teens listed something other than these categoriesas the biggest contributor to their stress (“What Stresses Teens Out”). A second survey conducted by WebMD asked parents whoreported a significant amount of stress in their teenagers’ lives to cite thecauses of this stress. The survey found that the biggest stressor was homework,with 69 percent of parents of girls and 68 percent of parents of boys citinghomework as their teenager’s primary cause of stress (Hayes). The next mostsignificant stressor was conflict with a parent, with 38 percent of parents ofgirls and 35 percent of parents of boys reporting conflict with their teen asthe primary cause of their teenager’s stress.
Thirty-eight percent of parentsof girls reported friends as the cause of their teenager’s stress as well,whereas only 20 percent of parents of boys did. Gaining admission into a goodcollege was the primary cause of teenagers’ stress for 33 percent of girls and20 percent of boys as reported by their parents (Hayes). Social related issueswere cited as the lowest primary causes of teenagers’ stress by their parents.Poor body image was cited for 32 percent of girls and 19 percent of boys andromantic relationships were cited for 27 percent of girls and seventeen percentof boys (Hayes).Academics prove to be a significant source of stressfor teenagers. In one survey, eighty-three percent of teenagers said school was”a somewhat or significant source of stress” (Shapiro). Twenty-seven percent ofthese teenagers reported extreme stress during the schoolyear, whereas onlythirteen percent reported extreme stress during the summer. The fact that stressdecreases for teenagers by fourteen percent from the schoolyear to summervacation supports the conclusion one’s education is the biggest stressor in thelives of teenagers (Shapiro).
Another survey found the two most common reportedcauses of stress were related to academics with school with 83 percent andgaining admission into a good college with 69 percent (Maideberg). A thirdsurvey on teenage stress cited the top source of stress was school work with 78percent (Maideberg). The author agrees that one’s education is the maincause of stress for teenagers.
She believes that as a teenager, school is thebiggest stressor for her and her peers. She feels she always has a test or quizto study for and feels the pressure of college preparation. Statistics showone’s education is the main cause of stress for teenagers in multiple surveysand studies which supports the author’s experience. Whilefactors such as social media, family life, and extra-curricular activities do contributeto teenage stress, one’s education is the main cause due to many reasons suchas tests, homework, and college preparation. Even though all teenagersparticipate in different activities, come from different families, and aretheir own individuals’, studies show the majority faces education as thebiggest stressor in their lives.
This is important because teenagers are thenext adults of society and stress affects how well they function. It isimportant to acknowledge the stress that comes from one’s education in order tohelp teenagers manage their stress