As much as we like to give teenagers a hard time for being a bunch of selfish and destructive sext bots, that fact of the matter is that teens today face more pressures than ever before and not just because of social media. Getting into college has become more and more competitive in the faltering economy, leaving teens to start academically wearing themselves out with AP classes, volunteer work and extracurriculars.
All of the expectations placed on high schoolers leave young people left with a ridiculously stressful and long work day. As one student describes her day to the New York Times:
On a scale of 1 to 10, [Abbie Kaplan, a junior at a Boston public school] places her stress level at a pretty steady 9. She regularly has four hours of homework a night, some done before swim practice. She eats dinner around 9:30 p.m., then finishes the rest of her homework and generally goes to bed at 11:30. Then she's up at 6 a.m. so she can be at school by 7:45.
She calls her hectic schedule "the new normal."
"You keep telling yourself that it will prepare you for the future," Kaplan says. "It's just sort of how it is."
This "new normal" has led some schools to take actions to help slow down their students' lives by implementing no homework nights, offering yoga classes, giving teenagers recess, bringing in therapy dogs (my college did this during exam times and it was a godsend) and — in some extreme cases — setting up wellness rooms with massage therapists and other stress-reducing treatments. What is this, the high school of Wieden+Kennedy?
With more and more kids suffering from anxiety disorders, experts are saying that any step taken to reduce students' stresses is "a step in the right direction." It will be interesting to see if the trend catches on, especially if they find away to bring stress reducing measures into more low-income schools where the pressures are even greater but therapy dogs and wellness rooms are beyond their means.
Chalk this all up to reason #2,310 that it's great not to be a teenager anymore.