According to Johns Hopkins Health Review, the odds of adolescents suffering from depression grew by 37% from 2005 to 2014. The question that arises here is, WHY? Why are so many teens depressed today? What's so different with teens now compared to teens in the past?
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There is often the belief that a richer society leads to a more unhappy society–mainly because of what a modern "high standard of living (in therms of wealth)" life entails. People are busier working, finance is constantly on the back of their minds, and they often have less time to spare for personal human relationships. Especially for countries that place a huge emphasis on education, such as Korea, students are pressured to go to academies, achieve the best grades, excel in extracurriculars, and get accepted into a top university. Often times, developed societies are characterized by these concerns, which can lead to greater levels of depression in a society.
Overall, I think Generation Z is one of the most depressed generations because those born and growing up in this generation are exposed to a competitive life. Whether it is in academics or in extra-curricular activities, parents seem push their students to get extra-tutoring or participate in extra-curricular activities at a young age. As a result, teenagers tend to hold the idea that 1st place is the only winner. Due to this competitive atmosphere, teenagers tend to compare themselves to others rather than reflecting on their own performance because they just have to be the best compared to everyone else. Furthermore, Generation Z was and is born with many opportunities and resources. For example, there are a lot of videos and articles that show teenagers how to get into an ivy league college. As a result, students start to gain confidence and ambition in going to an ivy league because they have the instructions with them. These resources are also available to parents, causing parents to push their children to follow the instructions or develop expectations for their children. However, these instructions are easier said than done, which causes frustration and low self-esteem because generation Z teenagers think, "If that person can do it, I can do it." If they cannot do it though, it causes teenagers to possibly to think they are "stupid" or "useless". There are also a lot of tutoring and consulting resources that parents apply their students to, which causes a sense of high expectations. As a result, if the teenager is not able to meet the expectation, they feel "useless" or "unimportant". Overall, Generation Z is just too competitive, which is caused by the amount of resources available to us.
I believe one of the reasons the adolescents suffering from depression is mainly due to the higher expectancy parents and society, has for them. When in the past, the students were expected to just get into college, the students nowadays compete against their peers and friends to get into a better college. In some cases, students are forced by parents to attend academies for over 12 hours for better grades. To be trapped in a closed environment for over 12 hours may possibly one of the reasons many students in Korea face depression nowadays than in the past.
It is no coincidence that there are more cases of depression in adolescents today, and much of this is likely due to social media usage. A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that the use of social media can be linked to depression, anxiety, poor sleep quality, lower self-esteem, inattention, and hyperactivity in adolescents. Researchers also found that decreasing social media usage helped teens to feel less depressed and less lonely, causing a qualitative shift in well-being. We have grown up in the age of social media and there is no escape, but this research shows that we could all use a break now and then. Our well-being counts on it.