Generation Z and their stress-filled lives

Amisha Sethi, Profiles Editor

From worrying about the number of Instagram followers we have to hyper analyzing the  college admissions crapshoot, Generation Z (defined as the age group born in the mid 1990s and the early 2000s) is “high-key” stressed. 

Virtually born with phones in our hands, social media has become more of a lifestyle than simply a form of connectivity. With our pervasive social media usage, our generation has been comparing ourselves and the quality of our lives to those of others’ for as long as we can remember. By constantly seeing posts of only the best parts of peoples’ lives, we fail to see the reality that everyone’s life truly is, a mix of both highs and lows. Bombarded with photoshopped images, we try to strive for a level of perfection that is impossible to achieve. We are thus left feeling insecure, unhappy with ourselves, and unfulfilled with our lives. 

According to 2007 studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information on teen stressors, most teens attribute a significant portion of their stress is due to social media, with 45% of today’s teens feeling judged when using social media and 38% feeling bad about themselves because of it. 

Additionally, Generation Z is more stressed about school than previous generations. As the value of higher education increases in society, more of our generation aims to pursue a college degree, and thus competition is increasing. 

Colleges now lower acceptance rates causing higher stress for Gen Z. For example, in 1988, the acceptance rate for Columbia University was 65%. It is now 6.8%. Similarly, University of Michigan’s acceptance rate went from 52% to 28% in that time. 

Not only is it harder to get in but it is more costly as well. According to Student Loan Hero studies, the average student debt per graduate who took out loans is higher than ever at $29,800. 

As a result, according to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA), about 42% of Gen Z reports being stressed about being in personal debt in the future, with student loans being one of the biggest components. 

Though social media influence and academic expectations are some of the main stressors for Generation Z, the list of other factors goes on and on, including the issues of gun violence at schools, recent tension in the political environment, increasingly common reports of sexual harassment, etc. 

As a result of these numerous stressors, according to the APA, we are the most likely of all generations to have poor mental health. 

Something needs to change, and fast.  

The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. By increasing awareness of the stress that the current generation is facing, as a society we can begin to create a more understanding and supportive environment for future generations to grow up in. 

Teens frequently hear the phrase “Just wait till you’re older!” But it’s time that people started thinking about what it feels like to be younger.