By Maya R., Sixth Grade, Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Today, preteens and teens are more stressed and anxious than ever. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, an organization that advocates for the application of psychological science and knowledge to enhance society, teenagers reported stress levels that were even higher than adults reported for themselves.

According to a February 2014 NBC article titled “Teens More Stressed-Out Than Adults, Survey Says,” 30 percent of teens have felt sad and/or depressed due to anxiety and stress, and 31 percent of teenagers felt overwhelmed. An additional 36 percent of teenagers said that stress makes them tired, and 23 percent said they’ve skipped meals over it.

A variety of factors cause stress in teenagers, including mounting pressures and expectations from school, social media, life changes, and extracurricular activities. In turn, stress levels can also yield good habits, such as exercising, sleeping, and eating healthy foods. Teenagers and pre-teens should try getting at least 8½ hours of sleep every night, because according to an article from sleepfoundation.org  “sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating, and good health.”

A common belief is that stress stems from school, particularly grades and the pressures to excel. Kristen Wavle, the middle school counselor at Krieger Schechter Day School believes that children should be taught how to deal with stress at a younger age . . . and less pressure should be put on students.

“Kids need to learn a little bit of resiliency and to learn that there aren’t dire consequences to everything. For example, if you lose a baseball game, it’s okay. You can learn from that. I think that a lot of adults have tried to protect children from feeling bad, being embarrassed, or feeling like they aren’t good enough or learning the lessons that come from losing.”

Daniel S., a KSDS seventh-grader, believes that students’ anxiety can be alleviated by using school psychologists who can “help [students] get through really tough times in their lives.”

More specifically, many teenagers get stressed over an immense amount of homework. Although homework is beneficial in terms of time management, organization, and skill development, it has a major downside. Many teenagers get little sleep because of too much work, causing them to be more anxious. The National Education Association and the National PTA support a standard of “10 minutes per grade.” This standard would permit first graders to have 10 minutes of homework, while sophomores in high school would have 100 minutes of homework every night. These associations also suggest that more work than the “10 minutes per grade” is not beneficial to students’ grades or GPA. There is a large amount of evidence that the work affects students’ attitudes towards school, self-confidence, grades, and quality of life, among other things.

Another reason for teens’ high stress and anxiety levels is social media. In many ways, social media takes a major toll on middle and high school students. Firstly, “kids used to go home, and even if they had a bad day, they left all of that at school. But now, there’s no leaving anything anywhere,” Wavle explains. Also, teenagers often obsess over how many likes and comments they get on posts. Additionally, when they see others’ posts, they become self-conscious about their life and image. To stop this, teenagers should be taught that everyone is different and unique and to not compare themselves to others.

In conclusion, there are many reasons teenagers and pre-teens are stressed and anxious, but there are also many solutions to this problem. By taking initiative now, schools can create a less worrisome and stressful environment for middle and high school students, which will lead to healthier and happier young adults.

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