Mental health problems such as depression are rising among the generation born between 1996 and 2012, also known as Generation Z, or Gen Z. Why is this happening and how do you support your zoomer kid?

Lazy, self-obsessed, dumb, lazy, tech addicts who want everything and want it now. That’s a typical negative view of kids born between 1996 and 2012. They’re often called snowflakes, which can mean they think they’re unique and deserve special treatment, or they are easily offended and overly emotional. Or all of the above.

Gen Zs are losing their youthful optimism. They report the least positive life outlook as well as lower levels of emotional and social well-being than older generations, according to management consulting firm McKinsey. In the US, they report higher rates of anxiety, depression and distress than any other age group.

Related article: 5 mistakes parents make with their teenagers

How Gen Z copes
Two in three zoomers rate financial stability above job satisfaction, the research group XYZ University discovered. That’s partly because they watched their parents struggling during the recession.

  They also view work primarily as a way to make a living rather than the main source of meaning and purpose in their lives.

Zoomers are digital natives – they don’t know a world before tech. It may be that the daily flood of digital information gives them a more intense experience of global problems. In school-aged zoomers, researchers found a relationship between "problematic" social media use and challenges with impulse control and goal-oriented behaviour, procrastination and stress.

Related article: 101 on teens & their screens

How to help your Gen Z kid
Some 37 percent of Gen Zs have seen a professional about mental health problems – much more than any previous generation but still quite a low figure. It’s important to stay connected with your Gen Z child and encourage them to talk about their problems and fears.

“Kids today are exhausted, overstimulated and coping with much more than their parents did as teenagers,” says parenting expert Christine Carter, author of The New Adolescence: Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and Distraction.

Related article: Get your teenager to confide in you

She feels parents need strategies to help these kids cope. Here are her key points for Gen Z parenting.

  • Model the behaviour and skills you’d like your teens to develop. Few things are more irritating to a teen than adults who don’t practice what they preach.
  • It’s not that you never say ‘no’ anymore or stop enforcing family rules. Instead, involve them in setting rules and making their own decisions.
  • As parents, you are most influential when working with their motivations, not imposing your own. Teens are very motivated by their desire for greater freedom, social status and the sense of belonging with their peers.
  • Touch and eye contact are fundamental for human bonding at any age. Even an extremely brief touch (like a fist bump or a half hug) can soothe their anxious nervous systems.
  • Teens need help resisting the unrelenting siren song of their smartphones. Help them configure their devices and screen time so that they are less tempted to check everything compulsively.

Gen Z in the future
Gen Z is starting climate movements like Greta Thunberg, campaigning for education like Malala Yousafzai or taking a stand against gun violence like Emma González. This generation seems to be growing up engaged, socially aware and independent thinkers. Nurturing their development is in everyone's interest.

Your little snowflake might make a huge difference in the world someday.

Related article: 10 tips for raising happy, well-rounded children

GEN Z IS DEPRESSED – WHAT CAN YOU DO? GEN Z IS DEPRESSED – WHAT CAN YOU DO? Reviewed by Edgars Mag on June 06, 2022 Rating: 5
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