Creating Healthy Phone Habits for The Anxious Generation

May 22, 2024
Diane Almanzor

Over the past decade, we've watched anxiety, depression, and suicide rates soar among our youth. Major depression has skyrocketed by over 60% among teenagers. Anxiety is becoming more common too, with 1 in 3 teens experiencing an anxiety disorder.

This "anxious generation" is also more prone to considering, planning, and attempting suicide, with the CDC reporting a 56% increase in suicide rates for ages 10-24 between 2007 and 2017. These rising mental health issues have reached crisis levels, prompting experts to call it a mental health pandemic.

So, what's behind this dramatic increase in anxiety and depression among our youth? There are likely many contributing factors we need to understand to find solutions. 

Jonathan Haidt, author of The Anxious Generation, pinpoints some of the most common causes and offers possible solutions to overcome them. 

Why Are Kids Anxious?

Today’s kids are facing some serious pressures that are causing sky-high levels of anxiety. This constant stress can lead to or make worse issues like depression, panic disorders, and phobias. It takes a toll not just emotionally, but physically too.

Anxiety can mess with their bodies, causing stomach problems, headaches, trouble sleeping, and fatigue. These symptoms can really disrupt their daily lives, making it tough to keep up with school, friends, and activities.

So, what’s behind all this anxiety? Here are some of the main causes to understand what's going on and how we can help our kids feel better:

The Relentless Race to Succeed

Kids today are under immense pressure to succeed academically and get into top colleges. The competition is fierce, and many are aiming for elite schools. This constant push to achieve leads to a lot of stress and anxiety. They often tie their self-worth to accolades and acceptance letters, so when things don't go as planned, it feels catastrophic.

The Dark Side of Social Media

Social media adds another layer of pressure by exposing kids to a constant stream of their peers' carefully curated lives. Seeing images of vacations, parties, and accomplishments makes them feel like they're not measuring up and that they're missing out. This comparison game fuels anxiety and depression. Plus, cyberbullying is rampant and can be devastating.

The Quest for Meaning

Youth anxiety often stems from feeling directionless and without purpose. In today's complex world, kids struggle to find meaning. 

With religiosity declining and community ties growing weaker, many young people are left grappling with existential anxiety and dread about their futures. They lack the perspective and wisdom to make sense of the world around them, leaving them feeling lost and uncertain.

Parenting the Anxious Generation

Raising kids today comes with its own set of challenges, especially with the rise in anxiety among young people. Between school stress, social media pressures, and the always-on culture, it can be tough to know how to support your anxious child. Here are some tips to help:

  • Listen Without Judgment: Create a space where your child feels safe to open up. Really listen to their feelings and concerns without dismissing them.
  • Identify Triggers Together: Work with your child to figure out what situations or circumstances tend to spike their anxiety. This way, you can both be better prepared with coping strategies.
  • Teach Coping Skills: Equip them with techniques like deep breathing, positive self-talk, and relaxation exercises. Show them healthy ways to deal with stress by modeling these behaviors yourself.
  • Focus on Their Strengths: Highlight their talents and abilities, not just their anxiety. Celebrate their small victories to boost their confidence.
  • Model Self-Care: Take care of your own mental health and well-being. Kids pick up on when you’re frazzled or overwhelmed, so practicing self-care sets a good example.
  • Set Healthy Boundaries: Don’t remove all challenges to accommodate their anxiety. Instead, gently push them out of their comfort zone to help build resilience.

With compassion, patience, and the right support, you can help your child develop the skills they need to manage anxiety and thrive. The key is creating a nurturing environment where they feel safe, heard, and empowered.

For a more long-term solution to anxiety, here are a bunch of ways to help reduce anxiety in kids these days:

Mindfulness Practices

Things like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga can really help calm anxious minds. Taking a few minutes to be present and focus can make a big difference. Plus, there are tons of apps, classes, and videos to get started with mindfulness.

Counseling and Therapy

Talking to a mental health professional can be super helpful for anxious kids. Therapy provides support and teaches them how to cope better. Both one-on-one and group sessions can work wonders.

Lifestyle Changes

Making some simple lifestyle tweaks can cut down on anxiety. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, eats well, exercises, and limits their social media use. Setting up routines and boundaries can also help keep anxiety at bay.

Healthy Phone Habits

Helping kids develop healthier phone habits is crucial. Encourage them to take regular breaks from their screens, especially during family time or before bed. Setting specific times for phone use and having tech-free zones at home can promote a better balance between screen time and real-life activities.

Healing the Anxious Generation

Jonathan Haidt, in his book The Anxious Generation, points out that technology and social media are big reasons why anxiety levels are skyrocketing among today's kids. Constant connectivity and comparison lead to negative thoughts and low self-esteem. 

As parents, it’s tough to know how to help our kids have a healthy relationship with technology. That’s where Aro comes in. Aro helps families build mindful tech habits by making it easy and rewarding to put phones down. 

Unlike other screen time solutions that just block or limit access to apps, Aro’s unique approach is all about developing the habit of putting down your phone. It changes how we use phones at home and encourages positive habits that cut down on compulsive use and improve connections. 

Overall, Aro offers a way to beat tech anxiety. With its physical box, tracking app, reminders, and family involvement, Aro creates an environment that helps everyone be more present. 

By making you put your phones away in the box, families can make room for meaningful interactions. Over time, Aro helps you get used to using technology more intentionally, not compulsively. The result? Less anxiety and more presence. 

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Aro helps families put down their phones to connect, relax, and recharge.

Aro app leaning against the Aro Home device
A close-up, overhead shot of the Aro showing a phone charging in one of the slots.
A family is gathered in the living room. Teenage kids run around while the parents relax on the sofa.

Life happens off your phone

Make phone-free time a part of your daily routine with Aro.