US Teens - One Third
Report Major Stress
Every Day< /A>
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Possibly because they are pulled in a million different directions by their parents and society, one third of US teens say they feel stressed-out on a daily basis.
In the study of more than 8,000 high school students and people in their early 20s, close to two thirds of all subjects polled reported feeling stressed at least once a week, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
By comparison, rates of stress in Japanese children are much lower, the investigators report. Previously, it was believed that academic pressure is solely responsible for stress faced by teenagers, but the new study disproves this theory. Stress levels stayed high even as teens finished their schooling, the authors note.
American children tend to face greater amounts of stress because families and societies place unclear goals on them. For example, American teens are encouraged to excel in school, have active social lives, be physically fit, and eventually have promising careers. Japanese parents and children usually focus on academic achievement above all else, the researchers explain.
"The message to parents is to be clear about what you want your kids to do. Do you really want to emphasize education, sports, or social life?'' lead researcher Dr. Harold W. Stevenson, a professor of psychology, said in an interview with Reuters Health.
"Parents should help young people differentiate what's important,'' he said.
"The charge is often made that the Japanese, along with other countries whose students are high-achievers, must pay a price for the high levels of performance and their greater devotion to studying. That price is assumed to be an increase in various types of psychological (problems),'' Stevenson explained in a written statement.
But American students who performed poorly on math tests still reported feeling more stress than their counterparts from Japan, Taiwan and China, Stevenson pointed out.
In addition, the investigators found that US students reported feeling anxious and aggressive on a somewhat regular basis. In the month before the survey they were more likely to say that they felt like hitting someone, destroying something or picking fights with other students, the researchers note.
The new study is part of a series of studies focusing on differences in academic achievement among different nationalities.