Top 10 Social Issues and Struggles for Teens
Wondering what life is like for today’s teens?
There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions on the topic.
Let’s look at some major social issues that shape teens’ lives today.
About 20% of teens experience depression, but only about 30% of those receive treatment. Teens are becoming aware of “adult” issues more quickly, from sexual activity to environmental devastation. Pressure to chart a future under tough circumstances makes depression more likely.
Bullying is widespread – experts estimate that about 30% of teens have encountered it – and it can lead to anxiety, depression, and worse. Bullied teens are also believed to be at greater risk than their peers of committing suicide. Odds are good that bullying happens daily at your teen’s school.
3. Sexual Activity
It’s natural for young people to develop curiosity about sexual activity, but many teens remain confused about sexual safety, sexual health, and how to protect themselves from risky behavior. About 62% of high school seniors have engaged in intercourse.
4. Drug Use
Marijuana use among teens is rising. Teens are adopting potentially dangerous vaping, even as smoking declines. Students are at particular risk of problems caused by prescription painkillers and stimulants. Rather than accessing drugs at a party or other large gathering, teens often use them in isolation and may even get them from family members.
5. Alcohol Use
Alcohol remains the most common drug of abuse, with young people aged 12-20 at high risk of binge drinking. By age 18, more than half of teens have had at least one alcoholic drink. Alcohol can cause long-term health problems and also contributes to teen fatality in car accidents. Alcohol addiction is much more likely in teens who begin to drink at an early age.
Obesity rates have been climbing among most U.S. demographics. Now, teens face an obesity rate of more than 21%. A sedentary lifestyle, increased academic and economic responsibilities, and fear of crime and violence have all combined to make it less likely teens will achieve the balanced, active lifestyle necessary to maintain a healthy body weight.
Young people are increasingly aware of the power of academic performance to shape their lives. From the earliest “high-stakes tests” to the SAT, rigorous performance is demanded of many teens. In pursuit of ever-higher standards, many students turn to stimulants, including ADHD medication. Depression, anxiety, and other undiagnosed mental health concerns can cause declining grades.
8. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure acerbates many of the problems on this list. It may contribute to feeling like teens “need” to use drugs or alcohol to fit in. For teens with low self-esteem, peer pressure can lead to risky or antisocial behavior, like bullying others.
9. Social Media
59% of teens have experienced cyberbullying, and social media is a major contributor. In particular, teens should be wary of Instagram. Uniquely popular among Generation Z – 72% of teens use it – it is also the epicenter of online bullying. Research suggests more than 20% of young people aged 12-20 experience bullying on this social platform alone.
Violence on screen and real life create pressures for teens. Studies show aggressive behavior as an adult can be predicted by youth exposure to media violence. Gun violence is the second-leading cause of death for American teens, and today’s teens show growing awareness of it.
Even one of these challenges can seem overwhelming, and many teens encounter all of them while growing up. If you’re concerned a teen in your life is struggling to find healthy ways to cope with mounting pressure, contact WinGate Wilderness Therapy.