Anxiety in Teens: Is It Just Social Media?


Photo by Anna Muh.

Anna Muh, News Editor

Rising anxiety levels in teens have been a hot topic covered in recent news. Across the country, researchers and psychologists and psychiatrists alike are trying to take a crack at answering the question of why teenagers are experiencing more and more anxiety. Their explanation: social media.

According to a claim from the Washington Post, social media plays a large part in how teens view themselves and their own identity and can ultimately cause them to experience anxiety over its influence.

However, in my case — and many others for that matter — social media is not the true root of the rising levels of anxiety in teens. The stresses of school and the need to get into a good college in a highly competitive academic market seem to be real cause.

As a high school senior, I have stress and anxiety constantly on my mind. With the demands of school and work and college requirements and other extracurricular activities, it’s a wonder that I should have any room to step back from it all and relax for just a minute. Most of the time I don’t.

Some people say that I have brought this on myself. I take three AP classes, I play for the school’s varsity basketball team, I am the president of a school club, I am an editor-in-chief for the school’s literary magazine, and I am the news editor for the school newspaper among so many other things. Yes, I am a busy girl, but I am busy with things that I know look good on college resumes and can help my college applications stand out.

Sadly, I’ve learned over my years in high school that I am not alone. So many other students my age are suffering from the same levels of stress and anxiety on a daily basis that I do. For the majority of the students I have talked to about these issues, school seems to be the root of most of their anxiety. With the high standards that McIntosh specifically places on academic excellence among students, many students find themselves working tirelessly to keep their grades up, not to mention students’ need to take multiple AP classes to make themselves stand out on college applications.

Yes, scientific research has proven that social media does have a significant influence on teens’ stress levels, but I am here to say that that is not the case for me or many of my fellow students. In my experience at McIntosh, it really does come down to the stress of being a student at such a high-achieving school. Of course, that high-achieving status does not apply to every school in America, but for McIntosh at least, it truly does seem like these increasingly higher levels of stress and anxiety stem from the pressures of school and the competitive sphere of college applications.