Teen anxiety is a long-debated subject, and experts have discovered two new factors that could be triggering this massive problem that the youth has to deal with. Check out the latest reports about the matter below.
FOMO and social media trigger anxiety in teens
A recent study conducted by Macquarie University (MC) suggests that the combination of the fear of missing out (FOMO) and excessive social media usage has resulted in an increase in anxiety among teenagers.
The study, which was published in the Australian Journal of Psychology, involved 951 participants between the ages of 12 and 16.
The results indicated that frequent use of social media led to higher anxiety levels in teenagers who scored high in FOMO surveys (11% of participants), while low FOMO scorers experienced less stress.
The researchers assessed FOMO, social media use frequency, anxiety symptoms, and self-compassion through an online questionnaire completed by 509 males (54%) and 442 females (46%).
According to the study, nearly half of the teenagers surveyed were “constantly online,” which led MC to call for a new approach to social media.
According to the notes, it seems that about 25 percent of teens use social media one to four times a day, 21 percent use it five to 10 times a day, 18 percent use it over ten times a day, and 16 percent use it all the time.
“Efforts to reduce social media use or improve self-compassion may be better directed to assessing and addressing FOMO and the adolescent’s sense of belonging,” the study noted.Research has shown that socially anxious teenagers tend to enjoy face-to-face interactions less when they spend more time online.
This feeds into a vicious cycle that erodes their social skills.
However, Danielle Einstein, the leader of the study from Macquarie University School of Psychological Sciences, explained that some socially anxious teenagers choose the online environment over face-to-face interactions because they want a sense of belonging.
According to her, young people share many experiences and in-jokes online, leading them to worry that they may miss something and be left behind.
Dr. Einstein emphasized the importance of prioritizing face-to-face relationships, and suggested that the first step towards achieving this is being mindful of one’s phone usage.
She condoned, for example, the NSW government’s decision to ban phones in public secondary schools.
“With evidence that even having a phone facedown on the desk is a significant distraction, the best option is to turn off all unnecessary notifications and put the phone in another room when working.”
Regarding the NSW ban, Education and Early Learning Minister Prue Car said it would reduce teen distraction and cyberbullying.
Parents are concerned about excessive screen time
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in April, children and teenagers aged 5-14 spend more than 20 hours a week on screen-based activities, which is more than the time they spend on reading. Michelle Ducat, the Head of Education Statistics at ABS, said that 40% of children who engage in screen-based activities spend 10-19 hours on them, while the percentage of children who use screens for more than 20 hours a week has increased from 16% to 24%.
The data also shows that the number of younger children reading has decreased, with 72% of them reading, down from 79% in 2017-18.
Moreover, approximately one-third of them read for two hours or less per week. In contrast, 63% of 12 to 14-year-olds read, which is a decline compared to younger children.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) revealed that parents are concerned about excessive screen time and consider it their children’s top health concern. They fear that their children spend too much time on electronic devices.
Furthermore, AIFS stated that screen time can have adverse effects on children’s weight and diet, behavioral problems, anxiety, hyperactivity, attention, self-esteem, and psychosocial health. It can also cause depressive symptoms for children aged 5-17.