Research Shows Parents Are Totally Clueless About What Stresses Teens Out

By: Lily Puckett, TeenVogue Magazine and WebMD


WebMD has released a three-part video series that drops a lot of truth bombs about how stressful it is to be a teen in America today. Along with the video series, they’ve released a new research study that sheds light on what parents think about your stress levels. The results? Parents might not be taking it as seriously as they should be, and this could actually be contributing to your stress.

Dr. Hansa Bhargava, pediatrician and WebMD medical editor, believes the video comes at exactly the right time, saying, “American teens are showing high levels of stress. This important survey closely examines how parents perceive their teens’ stress levels and has implications for just how parents may contribute to their teens’ stress levels. It provides a possible path forward for how we might be able to address the very real problem of stress among adolescents.”

Head on over to WebMD to watch the videos, which focus on homework (spoiler: it’s stressful), social emotional learning in schools (spoiler: same spoiler), and a teen crisis text line (spoiler: it’s helpful). Filmed in a Massachusetts suburb and New York City, the series is a broad look at real teenagers’ real lives, and the decision to focus on common issues that most teenagers face on a daily basis — work overload, social pressure, internal malaise — definitely make for compelling web TV.

The survey results are worth a look as well, since they mostly found that, when it comes to stress, most of the 579 parents interviewed truly just don’t understand. According to the findings, most parents know their teenagers are stressed, but they may not understand just how much pressure their kids are feeling. Parents are also saying that nearly 50% of teens turn to texting and social media to relieve stress, which could also be why nearly half of parents admit to spying on your devices.

Parents also have gender bias when it comes to acknowledging and handling your stress. Surveyed parents more likely to report higher levels for causes of stress with teen girls than teen boys in six different areas. They’re also more likely to cite friends as a stress factors for teen girls (38%) than teen boys (20%). Also a fact most parents don’t see in their male-identifying teens? Body image, which parents blame for stress among 32% of girls versus only 19% of boys.

“The teenagers I spent time with are very typical American kids, juggling sports and school and family life,” says co-creator Soledad O’Brien. “What makes them stand out, sadly, is the level of pressure and stress they experience each day as they try to excel in a hypercompetitive environment created by virtually everybody around them. These pieces allow viewers to look at some ways that schools can keep the competition keen without overly taxing their students, how they can deal with students in crisis or who are overwhelmed, and how they can put some of the joy back into learning that seems to get lost when the workload and stress level has gotten too high.”