But most of all they feel frustrated by their lack of freedom and autonomy as parents tried to protect them from drugs, the internet and other aspects of modern life.
The Society thinks parents are too quick to dismiss it as teenage moodiness rather than trying to find out if their child is being bullied or has other problems.
14% of 14- and 15-year olds were found to have “low well-being” compared to 5% of 8-year olds.
This is a follow-up to the Society’s 2009 “Good Childhood” report which found that 1.5 million children were deeply unhappy. Rowan Atkinson, then the Archbishop of Canterbury, blamed parents saying that too many were “selfishly pursuing their own happiness”.
The new report found that children who embraced simple solutions and pleasures were the happiest. Those who talked to their parents about problems, had good friendships and got plenty of fresh air, played sport or read books felt better than those who didn’t. See “Ways to be happy?” and “Are you happy”
The single most important factor was having good relationships with parents and siblings.
A psychotherapist who helped with the study of 42,000 children ( so she’s coming at this with a particular view I would suggest) said young teenagers were paying the price for their parents’ anxieties as parents feel more protective. Young people need to feel more independent and be allowed to make mistakes.
The CEO of the Society said ” we should be paying particular attention to improving the happiness of teenagers … (we should work) to solve family conflicts or being bullied.”
As someone who once was a teenager and has had teenage children I can sympathise to some extent. But who says teenagers, or anyone else for that matter, have a right to be happy? It’s hard to separate their natural moodiness as hormones kick in, their sense of rebellion as they pull away from their parents’ influence, from other issues like bullying? They don’t always help themselves.
Children are more narcissistic now than previous generations, they think it’s “all about them” and they rely on being digital to make (and lose) “friends“. Reality shows have distorted their expectations. And parents and teachers have played their part by treating their kids like little princesses and “over-parenting”.
But I don’t believe modern teenagers are any more unhappy than previous generations.