It’s Children’s Mental Health week; a week dedicated to raising awareness of how mental health issues can affect young people and the scarily increasing incidence makes this crucial. Some people may refuse to believe that children can suffer from depression and stress and the way to tackle ignorance is through education. Children in this modern age are subject to a lot of pressures that previous generations did not have to face; which may be a large contributing factor as to why mental health conditions are on the rise amongst this population. Before you decide that kids these days are too molly coddled, understand what they are up against.
Bullying may be a historic problem for children, however, the cyberbullying aspect takes this issue to a whole different level. A bullied child may avoid school; move school or suffer through the day until the bell rings and they are released from their torment. But in an age of constant communication, the bullying can be continuous. From the moment you wake up you will be aware of what being said on social media, particularly if it’s about you – it’s only natural to be curious at to what others are saying about you. Imagine reading an abundance of nasty messages your friends wrote about you; imagine realising that you’re the only one left out of your friend’s group chat. This may seem trivial but to a child, being excluded can seem like the end of the world. Being shunned and insulted can have an extremely detrimental effect on the mental health of a child and social media facilities exclusion and bullying. Would the solution be to ban social media for your child? If you’re the only child not on social media you will be automatically isolated from your friends which makes parents hesitant to get rid of it.
A current trend amongst children, is to get your friends to vote how much they think you like them and then you will post screenshots of this online corrected with how much you actually like them. It breaks my heart to see children thinking that they were friends with someone to have the person announce to the world that they don’t like them at all. Rejection can be hard but public rejection stings much more.
Social media stars and influencers are the new role models which may concern you if you consider how Kim Kardashian rose to fame. Decades ago, you may have looked up to someone in a TV show and wanted to dress just like them and this is harmless. However, social media stars that are idolised by young children are sending them a much larger message. They are proving that nude pictures get more likes – hence more validation and respect. They are dangerously encouraging the use of appetite-suppressants to a generation of young girls that already compare themselves to the surgically modified and airbrushed influencers they follow. They are selling the concept that the more followers you have then the more worthy you are. I have heard a child describe the girl they have a crush on as having 7000 Instagram followers; this girl’s value was attributed to a figure – her online presence seeming to matter more than who she actually is.
Access to the Internet has been great; an abundance of resources and information available for our consumption, although this can have negative consequences for children. Children can easily stumble upon graphic, violent and gory images or videos daily. They may be taking silly Snapchat selfies when ISIS beheading videos catch their eye on the news feature it has. On television, there are age-restrictions and limits on what can be shown but the Internet has no such filter – except parental controls which can sometimes render the Internet very difficult to use. The Internet can be a dark place but nowadays it is a huge part of our lives and despite the risks we can’t quite give it up. Do gruesome videos have an impact on children’s mental health? Most likely.
Cosmetic surgery rates are increasing year upon year, along with non-surgical procedures such as botox and filler (that is encouraged to be injected almost everywhere). Reality TV shows such as Love Island, set unrealistic beauty standards for young girls, as most of the girls are extremely “surgically enhanced”, which can be devastating for their self-esteem. If all your idols are surgically morphed into clones then you will want to look how they do too; you will want to have the surgeries they have had too. Children used to be excited to turn 18 so they could go out and in this day and age, they are excited to get Juvederm injected into their lips, cheekbones and jaw line. Natural beauty is dying out as procedures to “fix your flaws” become more accessible and common.
To conclude, the pressures that young people face nowadays can be very problematic. Low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression that roots from “never being good enough” is an epidemic, whilst cyberbullying is taking more lives than ever before. Technology is a blessing, but it’s also a curse. Being aware of how hard being a child can be promotes compassion and I hope that this post defeats the line, “Kids don’t know what stress is yet”.
IT’S EASIER TO BUILD UP A CHILD THAN IT IS TO REPAIR AN ADULT