Most of the research so far about generation Z suggests that youngsters today are less hedonistic, better behaved and more lonely than ever before. A recent report by Pew Research Centre, a think-tank, reinforces that finding and sheds more light on this new cohort’s hopes and fears. In late 2018 Pew polled 920 Americans aged 13-17 about the problems that they have seen among their peers. The data show that they are far less concerned about age-old teenage problems like unplanned pregnancy and binge-drinking than they are about mental health. Fully 70% of respondents thought anxiety and depression were a major issue among their peers. Teenagers from poorer households tended to report a wider range of behavioural problems than those from rich households, but concerns about mental health seemed to affect both groups equally.
What is causing such widespread stress and dejection among the young? One answer might be that social media have made teenagers feel more isolated from their friends and tormented by their peers. More than half of those surveyed by Pew cited bullying as a major problem. Another reason might be academic worries. Members of generation Z, even more so than the millennials before them, seem to have less desire to get wasted and more to get top grades. Two-thirds of respondents to Pew’s survey said that they feel no pressure at all to get drunk, whereas nine-tenths feel under the cosh when it comes to doing well at school states the The Economist.