Teens: 70 Percent See Anxiety and Depression as Major Problem

The Pew Research Center has released a new survey of teens which indicates that seventy percent of teenagers feel that anxiety and depression is a major problem among their peers. An additional 26 percent see it as a minor problem. The problem of anxiety and depression top all other concerns with bullying in second (55 percent), drug addiction third (51 percent) alcohol as fourth (45 percent) and poverty as a major problem at 40 percent. The concern about mental health and anxiety cuts across gender, racial and socio-economic lines.

The survey was conducted from September 17 through November 25, 2018. It included a sample of 920 U.S. teens ages 13 to 17. The sample was a nationally representative from a probability-based panel of the U.S. household population. Randomly selected U.S. households were sampled.

When surveyed about the level of pressure teens feel themselves, academics tops the list: 61percent of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades, three-in-ten say they feel a lot of pressure to look good (29 percent) and to fit in socially (28 percent), while roughly one-in-five feel pressured to be involved in extracurricular activities and to be good at sports (21percent each).

In these areas there were some differences when it came to how teens felt about their own situation. Girls are more likely than boys to say they plan to attend a four-year college (68 percent vs. 51 percent respectively), and they’re also more likely to say they worry a lot about getting into the school of their choice (37 percent vs. 26 percent). Boys are more likely than girls to say having a lot of money would be extremely or very important to them (61 percent vs. 41 percent). Girls are more likely than boys to say they face a lot of pressure to look good (35 percent) compared with boys (23 percent).

In terms of income levels, perhaps not surprising, seven-in-ten teens in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more say they plan to attend a four-year college after they finish high school; that drops to 52 percent in those households with incomes between $30,000 and $74,999 and 42 percent in households with incomes below $30,000.

Among teens who plan to attend a four-year college, those in households with incomes below $75,000 express far more concern than those with higher incomes about being able to afford college.

The survey found some differences between parents and the teenagers. For parents who live with their teens, 45 percent say they spend too little time with their teenage children but 25 percent of teens say they spend too little time with their parents. Sixty-five percent of teens say they spend the right amount of time with their parents, while 9 percent say they spend too much time.

Those attitudes change within income levels. Four-in-ten teens in households with annual incomes below $30,000 say they spend too little time with their parents this, compared with roughly one-in-five in households with higher incomes. The full report is available here.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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