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How do today's teenage stresses compare with the kind of things that stressed you out when you were a teen? Talk to the National Citizen Service and you could win a £300 Love2Shop voucher NOW CLOSED

(227 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Sep-15 14:07:19

We've been asked by the team at NCS, the country's flagship youth programme for 16&17 year olds, to find out about Mumsnetters' opinions on the kinds of things that stress your teenagers out and how this compares to the trials and tribulations of growing up when you were the same age.

How different is life for today's teenagers? Do you think young people today are under more pressure to keep up with trends and technology? Or perhaps academic expectations are more stressful now than they were when you were young? Are you glad that social media wasn't as important when you were a teenager? What about things that really stressed you out that don't feature in modern teenage life at all?

Natasha Kizzie from NCS Trust says: "The start of the new academic year is particularly challenging for 16 and 17 year olds today. They are not only dealing with the day to day pressures of social media, coursework and exams, but they're also tasked with laying the foundations for their future after school or college. With pressure growing, it can be difficult for both teens and their parents to take a step back when it comes to making decisions."

"NCS is a truly unique experience that takes teens out of their comfort zone with lots of new experiences, an away from home stay and the opportunity to make lasting new friends friendships. It is an invaluable opportunity to gain confidence and develop the skills they need to follow their dreams."

Share your thoughts on this thread and you will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 Love2Shop voucher.

Please note your comments may be included on NCS's pages on MN, their social media channels, and possibly elsewhere, so please only post if you're comfortable with this.

Thanks & good luck,

ouryve Mon 14-Sep-15 14:11:54

Well, the big and most obvious difference for me is technology. When I was a teen, you waited for the phone at home to be free or else went out to a phone box and you phoned someone up if you needed to make arrangements, or even went and knocked on their door. And of course, there was no social media, so the gossip grapevine was a lot slower than it is now.

I think I would have found that extremely difficult as the shy teenager I was.

CMOTDibbler Mon 14-Sep-15 14:17:17

Compared to my teenage years, the obv thing is the way technology pulls school angst home, and the way it can make isolation seem so much worse.
But, otoh, as a teen I found being a black wearing goth type in a small town hard, and online community would have reduced that. And let me shop more!

marymanc Mon 14-Sep-15 16:44:20

When I was a teenager clothes and accessorises were a big deal, like the latest jeans or rucksacks. Today the biggest pressure for teenagers is to have the latest phone or tablet, the best profile on Social media and the most friends of Facebook or follower on Twitter...

I used to phone my friends and talk to them for hours and arrange to see them to go for walks, shopping, visiting others, etc. Today all is done online and it is faster but less personal.

RhodaBull Mon 14-Sep-15 17:00:01

I think there is more pressure to do well academically. Back in my day - the 80s - I just mosied off to a very good university with rather indifferent grades and got a full grant plus dole in the holidays. There seemed to be plenty of jobs around afterwards and I went to live in London.

Now my ds is faced with mega competition to go to a good university, plus the fees don't bear thinking about, then there's the fear that afterwards the only work available will be in a call centre or as a barrista and even if he becomes an investment banker he'll have to live in my spare bedroom until I pop my cloggs.

20thcenturyschizoidwoman Mon 14-Sep-15 17:09:24

As a teenager my main stress was nuclear war - We were A CND family and I was convinced we would be anhialated buy the Russians.

Like one of the posters above I was (and still am) a goth which was a bit ?? in a small village. Kids today seem to be pretty much homogenized with regards to style ( well in my small town they all look the same - hair in a bun thing, fake tan etc)

Today (from what I can see - my children are in their mid to late twenties) it seems to be based on how you look and how others see you.

20thcenturyschizoidwoman Mon 14-Sep-15 17:10:48

By *. Not buy!

I must wear my readers when I am typing on my iPad!

WowOoo Mon 14-Sep-15 17:15:44

I think the pressure of getting into good schools is far worse than it was in my day. I went to my local comp and that was it!

Like others have said, technology is an issue. Online bullying can cause so much damage and it's maybe easier to keep it a secret as it's less out in the open.

I also think there's more pressure for kids to look cool. I'm not really sure, but I can't remember anyone ever caring quite as much about what we were all wearing, but that may be my bad memory. it was a long time ago.

FadedRed Mon 14-Sep-15 17:43:53

Class distinctions were rife.
'Poor kids' we're not expected to go to further or higher education, despite their potential.
Prospect of nuclear war.
Sex and racial discrimination was common and rarely challenged.
Religious doctrines led to ignorance, and unnecessary feelings of guilt.
On the other hand, jobs were available to pretty well anyone who wanted to work and one could pick and choose.
We were freer to be out and about (not always a good thing) and life seemed less restricted.
Fashion was something that happened in that mysterious place called London, and not in real life.
Men went to the moon.
The NHS was revered and it was expected that you were safe (again not sure how true that was) and you could see your GP when you needed to, and he would visit you at home if necessary.

CopperPan Mon 14-Sep-15 17:45:30

My teens aren't interested in social media so that hasn't had a huge impact on them specifically. But DS is very into his gaming and using his smartphone, and it's hard to get him engaged in anything without him being distracted by those these days!

They are under more pressure academically than I ever was, and I really worry for their future in being able to support themselves in the future, especially as we are in London where housing is expensive. I moved out when I was 18 and never lived at home again after that, but I can't see them being able to afford to do that as teenagers.

Ratbagcatbag Mon 14-Sep-15 18:42:01

For me it's how teenagers today are never switched off due to technology, if you were bullied or had issues when I was younger at least your home/bedroom got you away from it, nowadays it's a constant stream with social media and all the Apps associated with it.
I also think the ability to make a mistake and get away with it/minimise it is a lot harder. Everything is recorded and shared so quickly. In particular the pressure to share inappropriate images and texts. Which then also have the ability to stay in the public domain for years.
Finally, I think the options for less academic pupils has reduced, there were teens at my school that have got on in careers when not expected by building up from the bottom. The competition is so high now that very few seem to have that opportunity.

Maiyakat Mon 14-Sep-15 20:03:28

When I was at high school, the Encarta CD rom was about as exciting as it got! Now the challenge of instant access media is everywhere and is often not a good thing for teenagers. The access to porn at a young age can have terrible effects. Also the lack of breathing space from school friends/enemies, as they are there 24/7 on social media. Of course on the other hand there are lots of great learning opportunities online, as well as the chance to interact with people from all over the world.

flamingtoaster Mon 14-Sep-15 20:47:47

I think young people today are under more pressure to keep up with trends and technology - there is pressure to have the "right" mobile phone, to be "in a relationship with x" on Facebook, to have lots of Facebook friends. When I was a teenager we did try to keep up with the limited trends in clothes there were - fashions didn't change so quickly then. Also if you didn't have a boyfriend then you could just grin enigmatically when asked and classmates (who didn't know you well/didn't live near you) would be left wondering - nowdays everything is all over social media all of the time.

I'm not sure academic expectations are more stressful now than when I was young - there was tremendous pressure to pass the 11+. These days there are many more ways to learn/prepare for exams which makes things easier - and I think it is more common now for people to train/do a degree later if they didn't get the right results as a teenager which reduces the pressure.

Are you glad that social media wasn't as important when you were a teenager? Definitely - school problems can follow you home, nastiness of all kinds can follow you home - home is no longer the stress free oasis it used to be.

What about things that really stressed you out that don't feature in modern teenage life at all? I worried about nuclear war - now teenagers have different global problems to worry about.

Sparklingbrook Mon 14-Sep-15 20:57:44

I think teens these days are told that A* results, and RG Universities are the only way ahead and anything else is failure, the pressure to perform well seems immense.

Social media has a habit of taking over. No escape from what your peers have/where they are going on holiday etc. No surprise on the first day back after Christmas, asked what everyone got. They have already seen a photo of it on Facebook sad

I loved being a teen in the 80s, it seemed very carefree in comparison to what DSs are going through now. I was quite mysterious as a teen, i think that would be hard to be now.

I have a dd of 16 - who's just had a great time this summer on the NCS programme BTW - and a ds of 13. I think the way I see the difference in stresses for them is that mine were more vague and due to not knowing things, and theirs are more specific and from knowing too much. For example they now have targets for exams in each subject, and know what they need to do - kind of - to get each grade. I just hoped that I might do well enough to go to Uni as my parents had done. No-one was able to give me much indication whether or not this was likely. And I had a plan B. Now my dd is much more confident that she will be able to go to Uni to do a course that interests her - and she just started the sixth form last week. We've already been to a Uni Open day for a course that she's already found for herself online, as one possibility. I leafed through a few booklets in the school library and put down some places that were vaguely near the sea as that appealed! Visited them on interview day and hoped for the best.
I'd say the same principle of knowing too much versus knowing too little applies in other areas for today's teens too - compared to back in the day smile

InAndOfMyself Mon 14-Sep-15 21:50:18

I think there is more pressure to be physically perfect - no body fat, no unwanted hair, smooth skin, etc. The pressure is there for both boys and girls.

Social media is also a big source of stress; every experience is out there, right away, to be consumed, broken apart, digested. It is relentless.

I'm glad I'm not growing up as a teenager today!

Theimpossiblegirl Mon 14-Sep-15 22:39:10

Looking back I still had the usual pressures- to be thin, pretty and popular, but without the lip fillers, bottom implants and other cosmetic surgeries being considered normal.

I'm glad I didn't have technology like they do now so I could make my mistakes without the world knowing. Technology is great but there is a dark side and cyberbullying/revenge porn etc. are a concern.

I also really worry about how much easy access teens have to porn now, skewing perceptions of what is normal sexual behaviour, with pressure and misconceptions on both sides.

On the other hand, my 14 year old has openly gay friends. I think teens can be themselves more and seem to be more accepting of difference. They seem to be generally more confident and comfortable in their own skin. Unless I'm being naive and that's just my DD and her friends...

Emochild Tue 15-Sep-15 03:46:09

I think that school provides a lot more pressure now -from the first day of year 9, school run a count down of how long it is until the gcse exams and the pressure to do well actually starts at 10 with SATS and then doesn't seem to go away throughout the rest of their school years

When I was at school, years 7-10 were more about being part of a community and socialising

Social media also means that teens never have any down time -yes Sunday afternoons used to be boring but they provided much needed down time that teenagers just don't seem to get anymore

hermancakedestroyer Tue 15-Sep-15 07:40:01

I believe that there are far more pressures on today's teenagers.
I was fortunate enough that my only concerns were if my friends were ok and what was for tea whereas now there seems to be a lot more pressure to excel at exams at all stages of education. I believe that league tables have caused this stress. Teenagers feel as if they are failing if they don't excel in all exams.
My daughter is a teenager and she took the 11plus as a personal challenge. She missed out by a few marks. I bumped into another mum who asked how she got on. I explained how she had narrowly missed out and she said 'oh, I thought she was bright'
The education system seems to be wanting to produce exam robots instead of a full, well adjusted young person with good social skills.
I also agree with previous posts that social media causes a lot of problems if not used in the right way.

Dolallytats Tue 15-Sep-15 08:08:52

Social media. It's bad enough having dodgy haircuts caught in a photo, let alone doing the rounds on Facebook etc. And the need to look beautiful all the time. Of course there was some of that when I was growing up, but it seems to be the be-all-and-end-all now.

Technology is a great thing, but has also given children and teens access to info that they are too young to handle.

Groovee Tue 15-Sep-15 09:57:11

Social media seems to be the new way to bully. Someone may hide behind a computer screen or a phone and be nasty instead of to their faces. Emotional bullying can be really hard.????My teen seems extremely stressed by the new exam structure in Scotland. I don't remember there being as much pressure on me doing standard grades as much as she is having with Nationals.

BettyBlueToo Tue 15-Sep-15 10:35:05

The approval they get from the Internet can be good and bad. Bad because impressionable teenagers who want validation can get it in spades from sites like Tumblr. But finding people with things in common if you're a bit different can be a huge help.

MissFitt68 Tue 15-Sep-15 11:09:12

There seems to be more pressure for teens to learn to drive and own a car than there was when I was a teen. There was never a rush to get a provisional and be driving before we had secure full time jobs, unlike now

Oh, and prom pressure! Never had none of that ( or nails and eyebrows like they are obsessed with now)

mummytime Tue 15-Sep-15 11:42:41

When I was young 70/80 I was very worried about nuclear annihilation. Bullying was also ignored or swept under the carpet. I remember telling my head of year that a girl had threatened to fight me on my way home, she just ignored it; and the only reason I wasn't hospitalised was that an older girl defended me.??My DC have bullying dealt with swiftly and well by school and don't think the world could end any moment.??On the other hand the pressures on them over appearance and exams is horrendous. They are constantly bombarded by images of thin for girls or ripped for boys "role models", and even the government constantly lectures them about losing weight. Then exams used to be a private thing, now it's a public occasion. In my day the only people who needed 3As at a'level wanted to study to be a vet. And the results were celebrated in the local part months later.??Technology does mean you could be being victimised without realising it. But it also makes it easier to find other people who think the way you do.

AGnu Tue 15-Sep-15 12:27:40

Social media is the thing that strikes me in particular. I was a teen in the era of MSN messenger & it was used against me. A group of girls used to be my best friends one minute & then completely turn against me the next. I never knew whether I was coming or going & on more than one occasion they got together at someone's house & coaxed me into confiding in the one or 2 I thought I could trust & then used the information against me.

I can't imagine how much worse off I'd have been if Facebook had been around then - the pressure to be "friends" with everyone from school, the pressure to update with what I'd been up to, all those people then knowing that I spent all my time with my family & didn't have any proper friends... Not to mention my mum discovering Facebook & deciding she wanted to be friends with me - I'd have imploded under the stress of trying to balance pretending to be cool & not upsetting my mum!

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