Through their social media feeds, teens have access to a constant flow of news and information. Our research suggests that this is taking a toll on them and increasing their anxiety. Here’s what we’ve found:
Stress is rising among teens. Teens are feeling more stressed, up 3 percentage points in 5 years. Those aged 16 to 17 are more stressed than their younger peers.
The mid-teen years are when stresses start to mount. Younger teens (age 12 to 15) worry most about parents, phones, and school grades. While these worries continue as they age, starting around age 16 concerns about the future also start to creep in – about their potential, having enough money, and job prospects.
They know they can learn from failure, but they don’t want to fail in a way that impacts their future. Teens around the world believe that it’s okay to fail if they try their best. Over 5 years, the percentage of teens who agree that “it’s better to try things and sometimes make mistakes than never to try at all” increased from 86% to 89% globally. At the same time, they believe that failing at something really important could impact their success later in life – which only serves to put even more pressure on them. Almost 6 in 10 say that fear of failure sometimes stops them from doing things, and two-thirds say they don’t always manage to live up to their own expectations.
Teens see the world through the lens of social media, and have difficulty making sense of it. Social media gives teens an unfiltered view of the world. However, they still lack the experience to understand the world’s complexities and nuances beyond simple headlines.
Their countries feel less safe. Teens are more frightened about safety in their home country than 5 years ago (up 4 percentage points). Their openness to immigration has fallen 6 percentage points. They also are less likely to feel pride in their country (down 4 percentage points).
On the one hand, those who use social media tend to be both socially conscious and determined. Teenage social media users are more likely to champion human rights. They also show more ambition in their lives.
But more followers can mean more stress. The positive effects of social media often start to unravel when teens’ social networks grow too large. Those with networks of more than 300 tend to be more anxious and worry more about how others perceive them.