Pimples, mood swings and dating – there’s no better way to sum up a teenager than that, right? We assume these are the only issues teens must endure, while the rest of us worry about paying the bills and working a 9 to 5 job. But here’s the hidden truth. Although teen problems may seem pretty insignificant compared to those of adults, these early years are a critical period of development in social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes. These transitions lead to various mental health challenges, including a high risk for suicide.
COVID-19 is on the Rise, and so is Teen Suicide
Socializing is an important part of being a teenager. Hanging out with friends, forming new relationships, playing on sports teams, are all a part of growing up and expanding social skills that will prepare them for the future. Now with the challenges of COVID-19, teens are more vulnerable to poor emotional and physical health that can be difficult to overcome.
Approximately 11 people die by suicide each day, making it the second leading cause of death amongst youth in Canada. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many have noticed an increase in youth crisis. According to McMaster Children’s Hospital, youth admitted for suicide attempts have tripled over the past four months, and many of these cases have stemmed from factors including a lack of social interaction, increased conflict at home and the inability to rely on friends. This is the time where teens are supposed to become more independent and explore their surroundings, so how do we give them these experiences that are so vital to their teenage years?
- Loosen up social media rules: Allowing youth to interact with their friends more frequently on different social media platforms such as Zoom and Instagram. More online usage with less restrictions will help them reconnect with friends and get a sense of normalcy back into their lives.
- Socially distanced hangouts: Meet in open places! Beaches, parks, fields and hikes all allow for easy interactions at a distance. Making the time to plan these outdoor activities can really boost energy and restore confidence back into teens lives.
- Make more family time: One positive outcome of this pandemic is that you get to spend more time with your family. Use this to its full advantage by spending time doing more family activities to get teens out of their bored routine and remind them that they are acknowledged and not alone. Host movie nights, cookouts, and have fun!
Be There and Be Aware
A study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that 50% of parents were unaware that their adolescents, mainly younger adolescents, were considering suicide.
It’s important to always engage in conversations regarding their mental health. Don’t wait for your teens to approach you with problems they may be experiencing. Have open and honest conversations about feelings your teens may be experiencing, validate and accept those feelings, and recognize warning signs that may lead you to believe your teen is considering suicide.
Netsweeper’s onGuard is a powerful content monitoring and reporting platform that helps protect at-risk youth. This safeguarding device identifies potentially harmful actions in real-time, creates custom alerts and reports to facilitate easy review, charts data to analyze changes in behavior and much more. onGuard’s overall function is to mitigate potential harmful activity while promoting overall mental health wellness.
Is your teen’s mental health being compromised from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? Download our onGuard brochure for more information, check out our YouTube video, or speak to one of our solutions experts to see how Netsweeper can help.
Submitted by: Natasha Pande