Ana Veciana-Suarez: The Quest For A Perfect Life Is Causing Anxiety In Teens

By Ana Veciana-Suarez
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) I love this article by columnist Ana Veciana-Suarez which examines the struggle parents and children face in this digital age.

Tribune News Service

We live in anxious times, and I’m not referring to the politics dividing the country. Or the mass shootings. Or the tsunami of rape and sexual harassment accusations aimed at Hollywood moguls and other high-ranking men.

I’m referring to the bite-your-nails, can’t-get-to-sleep, hyperventilating-before-a-big-test anxiety many teens are experiencing when they stagger and stumble into adulthood.

As we spend more time online, as we measure our worth by Likes earned and Followers captured, our young people (and the not-so-young rest of us) are developing a skewed view of life.

On the screen, existence is filtered through a rose-colored lens. No one posts a photo where they’re not looking their best, unless, of course, it’s some kind of obnoxious humblebrag. (Check social media if you doubt.)

In the virtual world the messiness of existence has been scrubbed out. Parties are joyous, friends loyal, scenery breathtaking, clothes fashionable, food gourmet, travel exotic. In short, life is fabulous.

The tough daily slog all of us face? Since that doesn’t translate well into Facebook or Instagram, our plugged-in children see mostly sham and charade.

But because reality is relentless and unforgiving, sooner or later the unavoidable happens. Our young people compare their very real lives to the make-believe of screen, and they find theirs falling short. They grow apprehensive and fretful, for the chasm between pretend and real often looms insurmountable.

No wonder teachers are reporting more anxious students and college counselors are warning that young adults are overwhelmed emotionally and mentally.

The American College Health Association reported a big jump in undergraduates feeling “overwhelming anxiety,” from 50 percent in 2011 to 62 percent in 2016. And a recent New York Times story revealed that high school administrators are seeing more anxious students in school, too.

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