Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
This is my son’s first year of high school and I’m noticing some changes in his behavior. He appears sullen and distracted much more often than he did last year and is spending an unfathomable amount of time on social media. His first report card arrived last week, and his grades were mostly B’s and C’s, which surprised me since he’s always been an A student. I tried talking to him about it, but he’s been very standoffish and brushes my concerns away. Is there something my husband and I can do for him? We don’t want to be helicopter parents or micromanage him, but we also don’t want to stand back and do nothing.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon scenario for parents. A teen’s behaviors can be related to a number of factors like adjusting to a new school, dealing with increased academic demands and harder classes, friendship difficulties, puberty, etc. Fortunately, many teens adjust to these changes with a little bit of time and support from parents and/or teachers.
However, your child could be dealing with something more serious like depression or anxiety which may be triggered by challenges at school, at home, or in their personal life. The Mayo Clinic has a list of symptoms to look out for:
- Constantly feeling sad and/or hopeless
- Little or no interest in spending time with others
- Low self-esteem
- Thoughts of self-harm, death, and/or suicide
- Feeling worthless
- Exhausted and sleeping too much or too little
- Poor grades
- Making excuses to skip school
- Trouble focusing, thinking, and making decisions
- Overwhelming worry or fears
- Constantly feeling nervous or tense
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling tired and/or weak
- Trouble focusing on the future or constantly worried about what will happen next
- Sweating and trembling
- Avoiding people or situations that trigger anxious feelings
Did you know that, since 2011, there has been a 59% increase in teenagers reporting depressive symptoms? While this number is alarming, things become even more serious when you consider the fact that these symptoms can lead to other significant problems.
For instance, many teens simply do not know how to handle their often-intense emotions. They feel the pressure to perform, conform, and be the best but don’t realize that being perfect and at the top of the heap across the board in their lives is an unrealistic goal.
When kids don’t know how to handle their feelings, some suppress or deny how bothered they feel. This can lead to a downturn in schoolwork and other activities that require motivation and concentration.
The reality is that things are very different for today’s teens and tweens compared to the adolescent experience of most of our readership. The demand for high performance is greater than ever. In most schools, there is increased pressure to take AP classes and to build college resumes.
As such, not only do kids today get the message that whatever they are doing is not necessarily enough, but most are simultaneously fixated on their mobile devices or screens. This surely makes schoolwork take longer and dilutes their efforts at effective studying and learning.
Teens will tell you that their amount of time spent on screens is not a problem. However, research has shown that over two hours a day on social media correlates with a higher chance of feeling unhappy.
To top things off, teenagers tend to use screens as a way of coping with stress from school, social, or home life. That is to say, many, if not most, are unfamiliar with other, more effective coping mechanisms.
Learning More About This Topic
Back in 2016, Dr. Delaney Ruston brought us Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age, a documentary that delves into teens dealing with social media, video games, school, family, and social relationships.
It offered ways for parents and professionals to help teens navigate through the digital world in a safe and productive way. It’s a film that Rice Psychology Group fully endorses, along with its newly-released sequel, Screenagers The Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience.
With her new film, Dr. Ruston provides an ideal vehicle to empower our kids and help them overcome challenges, build emotional agility, develop coping mechanisms, and create stress resilience. Not only does Dr. Ruston give us a look into her personal experiences, but she also shows us how to make strides through insightful stories and lessons provided by researchers, psychologists, and other professionals.
All of the professionals featured in the film are incredibly well-respected and have fantastic insights and tools to offer kids and the adults who care about them. On a side note, I was thrilled to see that the film included one of my professional idols, Dr. Harold Koplewicz, who founded the Child Mind Institute and, years ago, wrote the book It’s Nobody’s Fault to help stop the cycle of blaming kids and parents for children’s’ mental health problems.
Reserve Your Spot for the Viewing!
Rice Psychology Group and the Academy of the Holy Names are proud to co-sponsor a screening of Screenagers The Next Chapter: Uncovering Skills for Stress Resilience on October 22nd at 6:30 PM as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s our way of joining in solidarity with our community as we make an impact on mental health awareness. Our goal is to help parents, counselors, educators, and children establish forward-thinking solutions for better mental health.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
If you or someone close to you has struggled lately with their emotions, know that Rice Psychology Group is ready to help. Our Tampa psychologists and therapists know how important your mental health is and will do what we can to help you identify your issue and face it in a productive and character-building way. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.