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In society
today teenagers are faced with more stress than adults. On a scale of ten, the
average stress level for a teen is 5.8, whereas that of an average adult is 5.1
(“American Psychological Association Survey”). Is social media the main cause
of stress in teenagers? Although factors such as social media, family life, and
extra-curricular activities may contribute to teenage stress, one’s education
is the main cause due to reasons such as tests, homework, and college
preparation.

            Stress is “a state of mental or
emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”
(“Stress”). Stress can be negative when it causes a lack of sleep, depression,
or changes in appetite. This negative stress takes a toll on mental and
physical health that can be detrimental if it is not managed well over an
extensive period of time. However, stress can be positive and help to motivate
teenagers to do better. Teenagers who manage stress well tend to succeed under
pressure and excel in stressful circumstances (“American Psychological
Association Survey”).

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            Many aspects of the lives of teenagers
can cause stress. One common stressor is social media. Within the past decade
social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have increased
in popularity and have begun playing a role in teenagers’ daily lives. One
reason social media can be stressful for teenagers is the pressure to post
(McDaniels C1). They feel they need to be active on social media sites to
retain followers and keep others updated on their lives.

From posting stems the feeling of competition.
Teenagers feel the need to compete with their peers and friends to determine
who has the superior life. Followers, numbers of likes and comments lead to
competition with the desire to gain the most on posts (McDaniels C1). Due to
this level of competition, cyberbullying has become another stressor that
results from social media. Negative comments can lead to anxiety, depression,
and more that can burden teenagers. Bullying on social media can lead to a lack
of self-confidence and negative body image making everyday life more arduous
(C1).

            A second stressor for teenagers is their
social lives. One reason social life becomes a stressor for teenagers is because
teenagers are expected to create and maintain meaningful friendships. With
differing school schedules and activities, teenagers may have to put excessive
effort in to keep a friendship. This may get more difficult the more the
friends’ schedules differ (“What Stresses Teens Out”). As a result, teenagers
feel stressed to keep up a correspondence and make plans. When this happens, friends
may feel as if they were left behind. Similarly, when teens have more than one
friend group it may become difficult to be friends with all of them,
principally when they do not get along well. Friends who dictate who teenagers
can be friends with also create unnecessary stress as teenagers try not to hurt
anyone’s feelings and may feel controlled by their friends (“What Stresses
Teens Out”).

A third stressor that comes with the social life of teenagers
is romantic relationships. Teenagers may feel stressed when having a boyfriend
or girlfriend because of the need to take care of and make this person happy.
They may face more stress if the person they are dating is not considered
popular or is not liked by their friend (“What Stresses Teens Out”). In some
situations, when in a relationship, friends of teenagers may feel left behind.
This can cause more stress if teenagers struggle to balance friendships and
romantic relationships. Romantic relationships can become expensive as well. Teenagers
may feel obligated to make money to pay for fancy dates or presents causing
them to feel unnecessary stress (“What Stresses Teens Out”).

In addition to the aforementioned stressors, extracurricular
activities also cause stress for teens. Teens may have a hard time balancing
activities or fitting the activities in which they are interested into their
schedules which could cause stress. Fitting friendships and relationships in teenagers’
schedules along with sports and activities becomes difficult as well (“What
Stresses Teens Out”).

Another significant stressor for many teenagers is
family life. Teenagers may become stressed if they feel they cannot or struggle
to fulfill the expectations put on them by family members (“What Stresses Teens
Out”). For teenagers whose parents were high achieving students, they may be
expected to be a high achieving student as well and feel stressed to strive to
this level of achievement. This is also similar to the pressure families put on
teens to succeed. For example, a first generation college student may feel
pressured to graduate and get employed causing stress (“What Stresses Teens
Out”).

Teenagers who come from broken homes are more likely
to have academic, behavioral, and psychological issues (Lutrario). A broken
home is defined as “a family in which the parents are divorced or separated”
(“Broken Home”). Similar to low performing students, teenagers from broken
homes are more likely to drop out of school. Family life can be extremely
stressful for teenagers from broken homes due to relationship issues and an
absence of one of their parent figures, a situation which teenagers who come
from traditional family do not face (Lutrario).

A nontraditional family is defined as “a family where
there is single parenthood, cohabitation, same-sex families, or polygamy”
(“What is a Non-Traditional?-Definition of Options”). Teenagers who come from
non-traditional families face some of the problems faced by teenagers from
broken homes. Teenagers from single-parent families are similar emotionally to
children of conflicted traditional families. Robert Rector, a senior researcher
at the Heritage Foundation, says “Children living outside marriage are seven
times more likely to experience poverty and are 17 times more likely to end up
on welfare and to have a propensity for emotional problems, discipline problems,
early pregnancy and abuse” (qtd. in Kantrowitz and Wingert 46). Emotional
problems and discipline problems can make social life and school more stressful
for teenagers from single-parent homes.

Time management can be another key stressor for
teenagers. With school and extra-curricular activities comes deadlines.
Deadlines can cause teenagers to feel as if there is not enough time or that
they are under pressure (“What Stresses Teens Out”). It can be very difficult
for teenagers to keep up with work, school, and extra-curricular activities.
They easily can become ill-equipped for tests and other schoolwork if they put
too many activities and responsibilities into their schedules. Multitasking is
also difficult for teenagers as the United States is a monochromic culture. This
means that the culture of the United States focuses on performing one specific
task at a time rather than multiple tasks. A final reason time is a key
stressor is that it can lead to a lack of sleep. Teens who stay up late doing
homework or playing sports often do not attain a good amount of sleep regularly
(“What Stresses Teens Out”).

Despite all of these stress-inducing factors, school
is the most prominent stressor for a majority of teenagers. One reason school
is such a large source of stress is homework (“What Stresses Teens Out”). One
third of teenagers worry most about homework (“What Stresses You About
School?”). Parents also notice the stress their children face from homework. Twenty-four
percent of parents said homework was a contributing issue or major cause of
their teenager’s stress (Neighmond). A second academic stressor is GPA and
grades. Performing well on schoolwork, homework, and tests is extremely
important to many students. Teenagers can become stressed if they do not
receive the grades or GPA that they desire. They may also stress about bringing
up their grades or GPA either because of personal motivations or pressure from
parents (“What Stresses Teens Out”).

Parent pressure on academics can contribute significantly
to why school is the biggest stressor for teenagers (“What Stresses Teens
Out”). Bryce Goldsen, a teenage student, said, “Most of my stress comes from
the pressure to perform well day in and day out” (qtd. in Reday). It is good
for parents to encourage their teenagers to perform well in school, but for
some teenagers the expectations their parents place on them can cause more harm
than good. Sandra Gadsden, another teenage student, said, “My mother says I
won’t get into a good college if I don’t do well on the test” (qtd. in Hardy
20). Parents contribute to their teenager’s stress by putting academics over
food, sleep, and comfort. Some also allow too many extra-curricular activities
without helping their teenagers to prioritize and budget their time (20).

The pressures from test-taking also contribute to the
stress teenagers experience from school (“What Stresses Teens Out”). Standardized
tests are required in many states including New York. Campbell, a teacher of
eighth grade students in North Carolina, said, “I have probably, during a
three-day period, about 15 or 20 cases where kids get sick during the tests.
That’s a pretty high rate. As the tests start, they literally fall apart. It
would break your heart” (qtd. in Hardy 18-23). Students often feel that tests
are “make-or-break” scenarios which leads to stress (Reday).

College is another factor that contributes to school
as a stressor (“What Stresses Teens Out”). Now more than ever there is an early
focus on college and future career plans that can be daunting to teenagers.
Worrying about plans for the future and how their current academic performance
will affect college and career choices can be extremely stressful and worrisome
for some teenagers (Reday).

The fear of failure contributes to why school is the
biggest stressor for teenagers (“What Stresses Teens Out”). This fear is mainly
caused by societal pressures, such as achieving good grades, gaining acceptance
into a good university, and finding a good job. John Holt, a distinguished
educator and education writer, said in 1964, “Adults destroy the intellectual
and creative capacity of the children…above all by making them afraid, afraid
of not doing what other people want, of not pleasing, of failing, of being
wrong” (qtd. in Hardy 18). In addition to societal pressures, this fear of
failing for teenagers is caused by many other factors as well. First, some
school climates gave become too large and impersonal. In this case, teenagers
may not feel they have anyone to go to for help and feel that without quality
relationships with teachers they are unable to succeed (18). Second, the
nationwide effort to increase standards has a negative effect by increasing
pressure on teenagers. Finally, the fear of failure undercuts self-esteem and
teenagers may not be confident in themselves and their intellectual capability
because of this (18).

Social issues that come with school can cause stress
for teenagers in both public and private schools. Many teenagers focus on
fitting in and on their friendships and romantic relationships in school
(Reday). Some struggle with the fear of being teased or judged because of how
much teenagers’ social lives contribute to the high school experience. Related
to social life, one fourth of teenagers struggle with appearance issues at
school (“What Stresses You Out About School?”). Worrying about these social
pressures within school can become very stressful.

Forty-five percent of teenagers are stressed by
school pressures (Neighmond). However, the stress that comes from academics can
look different for all students. Stress differs especially between high
achieving students and low performing students. For high achieving students,
schools have become a more stressful environment and many teenagers cannot
handle the pressure. High achieving students stress to get into a top college
and often load themselves with too many advanced placement courses as a result
(Hardy 19). They also usually participate in an overwhelming amount of
extracurricular activities and fill most of their schedule. High achieving
students tend to only find As and 100s to be acceptable and can stress because
of the high standards to which they hold themselves (19).

For low performing students, stress comes simply from
trying to stay in school. Many of these students face grade retention which has
proven to decrease academic success while increasing the dropout rate for
teenagers. The stress of not knowing whether they will finish high school
increases anxiety (Hardy 19). Low performing students thus face unique
problems. For them the first highest stressor is losing a parent, second is going
blind, and third is grade retention. The stress of grade retention links back
to the fear of failure and pressure to succeed (19). This is because grade
retention means a student failed to reach what the school views as success
necessary to move onto the next grade level.

There are many real life examples which confirm that
school is the main stressor for teenagers. One student, Nora, is in high school
taking mainly college-level courses. Her mother reports that she is always
tired, irritated, and suffers frequent headaches as a result of her high stress
levels caused by school (Neighmond). A similarly motivated student, Bretta
McCall of Seattle, says, “Academic stress has been a part of my life ever since
I can remember. This year I spend about 12 hours a day on homework. I’m home
right now because I was feeling so sick from stress I couldn’t be at school” (qtd.
in Neighmond). Another student, Kelly, experienced symptoms of stress in middle
school and was diagnosed with a panic disorder and anxiety disorder in high
school. Her mother said this stress stems from academics rather than social
issues or bullying. Kelly said, “There’s this mentality of, ‘You’re doing so
well, why are you complaining?'” (Neighmond). Her chronic stress led to a sense
of panic and paralysis.

Many statistics prove education is the biggest
stressor for teenagers. When surveying teenagers about the causes of stress in
their lives and which is the biggest factor, “homework and school” was the
largest stressor with fifty-five percent of the surveyed teens choosing it as
the biggest cause of stress in their lives (“What Stresses Teens Out”). “Parents
and family” were the second biggest stressor for teenagers with fifteen
percent, “social life” with nine percent, “time” with eight percent and “sports”
with four percent. Nine percent of the teens listed something other than these categories
as the biggest contributor to their stress (“What Stresses Teens Out”).

A second survey conducted by WebMD asked parents who
reported a significant amount of stress in their teenagers’ lives to cite the
causes of this stress. The survey found that the biggest stressor was homework,
with 69 percent of parents of girls and 68 percent of parents of boys citing
homework as their teenager’s primary cause of stress (Hayes). The next most
significant stressor was conflict with a parent, with 38 percent of parents of
girls and 35 percent of parents of boys reporting conflict with their teen as
the primary cause of their teenager’s stress. Thirty-eight percent of parents
of girls reported friends as the cause of their teenager’s stress as well,
whereas only 20 percent of parents of boys did. Gaining admission into a good
college was the primary cause of teenagers’ stress for 33 percent of girls and
20 percent of boys as reported by their parents (Hayes). Social related issues
were cited as the lowest primary causes of teenagers’ stress by their parents.
Poor body image was cited for 32 percent of girls and 19 percent of boys and
romantic relationships were cited for 27 percent of girls and seventeen percent
of boys (Hayes).

Academics prove to be a significant source of stress
for teenagers. In one survey, eighty-three percent of teenagers said school was
“a somewhat or significant source of stress” (Shapiro). Twenty-seven percent of
these teenagers reported extreme stress during the schoolyear, whereas only
thirteen percent reported extreme stress during the summer. The fact that stress
decreases for teenagers by fourteen percent from the schoolyear to summer
vacation supports the conclusion one’s education is the biggest stressor in the
lives of teenagers (Shapiro). Another survey found the two most common reported
causes of stress were related to academics with school with 83 percent and
gaining admission into a good college with 69 percent (Maideberg). A third
survey on teenage stress cited the top source of stress was school work with 78
percent (Maideberg).

The author agrees that one’s education is the main
cause of stress for teenagers. She believes that as a teenager, school is the
biggest stressor for her and her peers. She feels she always has a test or quiz
to study for and feels the pressure of college preparation. Statistics show
one’s education is the main cause of stress for teenagers in multiple surveys
and studies which supports the author’s experience.

            While
factors such as social media, family life, and extra-curricular activities do contribute
to teenage stress, one’s education is the main cause due to many reasons such
as tests, homework, and college preparation. Even though all teenagers
participate in different activities, come from different families, and are
their own individuals’, studies show the majority faces education as the
biggest stressor in their lives. This is important because teenagers are the
next adults of society and stress affects how well they function. It is
important to acknowledge the stress that comes from one’s education in order to
help teenagers manage their stress

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