Adolescence, a tumultuous sea: between unattainable models and fear of the future, we do not leave young people alone!

“A tumultuous sea is sweeping adolescence“, denounces the Italian Society of Pediatrics. And in the absence of help, of listening, of places where to vent the rage and the fear, where this landsdark wave of discomfort? Turned on cos. “I don’t like it, I’m too fat, too short, I have bad teeth, bad skin, I don’t eat anymore, I’m fed up. And the more I look for the profiles of my influencers, the less I like it. ”This is the most distressing figure that emerges from the 2022 edition ofNational survey on the lifestyle of Italian children aged 13 to 19 years conducted by the Adolescent Laboratory and the IARD Research Institute.

Of all the indicators that show the postpandemic discomfort of childrenthat of dissatisfaction with one’s own physical image has experienced the most sensational increase: one in two teenagers (with a slight prevalence of women) does not love their body. And if at this age it is normal to judge on the basis of confrontation with peers (the 34% of men and the 53% of girls), surprises and alarms the conditioning suffered by influencers and by fashion bloggers: the 59.1% of men and even the 77.6% of girls (as it increases in high school) he admits that the models he follows on social media influence the relationship with his own body. It is also the fault of the forced coexistence with families, experts say, “which has increased conflicts and therefore the flight in the use of mobile phones and social networks.” The end of the shady image? No, this is just the beginning.

Social networks are affecting the lives of teenagers, between unattainable physical models and the ‘abuse’ of mobile phones (Adolescent Laboratory-IARD Institute)

Covid and war: it’s too much!

Massimo Recalcati, star of psychiatry often repeats: Be careful not to victimize children and young people defining them “Covid generationVictims, he explains, do not favor the reaction and resilience that young people must have to go beyond the difficulties of life. But the research presented and illustrated by experts shows this. there is an emergency. And this, addressing it, should be a priority for all institutions. Because the problem is not just Covid and the two years he has spent at home, without friends and with distance learning, but the climate of war that was established immediately after the confinements suddenly extinguishing a new confidence in the future that they were finally (and we were all) swaying. A different anguish, perhaps more insidious than the virus, envelops children who are suddenly faced with a conflict of unknown boundaries and a media alarm that gives no respite. Very high percentages (between 80 and 90%) prove in fact that children are worried about the possible consequences direct or indirect of war in Ukraineand beyond the 75% fear “the outbreak of a world war with a possible direct involvement of Italy. ”And proving that teenagers have a sensitivity that may not be expressed, most empathize with the Ukrainian people and consider“ not worrying ”the possible mass arrival of war zone refugees.

For the futuretherefore, with respect to which the 52.7% of adolescents are defined “Uncertain” or “worried”. The “optimists” are only 14%, a percentage that drops to 12.7% among high school students and 11.8% among girls. “The bitterest consideration, on which we are all called to deep reflection – reads the report – is that the panorama that these teenagers see when they look out the window of the we have built your futurepiece by piece “.

Eating disorders

He 58% of adolescents he admits that in the last two years, and therefore in the midst of a pandemic, he has done so he ate badly: little, too much or in an undisciplined way. A fact that goes hand in hand with the drastic decrease in sports activity (32.4% say they have stopped doing any sport, mostly female) and with widespread sedentary lifestyle. Even among those who still play sports outside of school, the percentage of those who practice at least two hours a week has dropped from 62.4% (2020) to 49.5% (2022)where women are the majority.

Wish list
The ‘wish list’ of today’s teenagers is largely based on models imposed by social media (Adolescent Laboratory-IARD Institute)

“That the pandemic has produced a to increase Eating Disorders – explains Marina Picca, of the Italian Society of Pediatric Primary Care – is now an objective fact that comes to us from the literature and evidence we find in our daily work. Eating excessively and / or in a messy way may not have produced just one goal tendency to be overweightthat we are now seeing at an increasingly early age, but that it has certainly further distanced the perception of your body image from those ideals of physics, completely abstract, which are built through social media. The risk, at this point, is that they try, through DIY interventions, unjustified and in any case risky, to approach these models ”. And it’s hard to think that this influence, which has now entered his day-to-day life, could diminish.

The University

Data on the willingness of boys and girls to continue their studies after graduation (Laboratory of the Adolescent-IARD Institute)

There is the expense of all this desire to continue studying. Regarding 2018, when 76.8% had planned the university year and only 22.9% excluded it, we have moved to 63% of students plan to go to college and 33% (40% of men) who want to leave it (with a strong and predictable gap between high school students and technical and professional schoolchildren).

“A worrying figure – says Ivano Dionigi, president of Alma Laurea – for several factors: progressive distrust of boys towards the future, but above all a distrust towards the adult world, with respect to which the adolescents are carrying out a true secession ”. To this are added two objective elements: the difficulty finding work after graduation and the cost of university studies which increasingly affects family budgets, taking into account the general impoverishment of the population and the middle class in particular ”.

You want to escape and travel

The desire to travel and discover new places and new cultures grows among young people

It may surprise, in this context, the boom in enrollment in Interculture study trips (plus 6%) and in general the desire to travel reported by 77.4% of girls and since 57.7% of boys. Only 6% have little or no interest in doing so. And among those willing to leave, only a quarter (25.8%) aim for fun: the vast majority want to do so to meet new places (46%), but also to get in touch with new people and get there. they know different cultures (27.3%). A much increased desire compared to previous years and that only in 10% of children is accompanied by fear of Covid or war. The impulse of get out of the cage where they have been for years, therefore, wins all fears. “The desire to meet new people and new cultures – says Andrea Franzoi, secretary of Interculture – is certainly one of the few positive side effects generated by the pandemic.”

Is there a difference between men and women?

The data show that yes, there is one difference. And it is the psychotherapist Alessandra Marazzani of the Adolescence Laboratory, who explains it by analyzing the survey: “The girls seem busiermore focused on studying (see the data on the desire to enroll in university) and more immersed in reality, but precisely because of this I am more exposed to anxiety and pessimism. Men seem more optimistic, better equipped to stay in the precariousness of the moment, and therefore also less exposed to distressing phenomena. As if to say: a certain lightness (and even superficiality) can also be useful, in a period full of clouds like this.

And what?

young and social
The deep uneasiness caused in the adolescents by the pandemic first and by the war later pushed them to take refuge in the virtual world, increasing but the already existing problems.

If we associate with each of these numbers the faces of the boys who, silently and silently, cross one of the narrowest holes in history, it will seem clearer to us. the urgency devote much of our energy and resources to it. Starting with the school, of which Covid has revealed all the limits (the 70% heard from the interviewees penalized in school education of these years). Leave them alonedon’t help them convey the discomfort they massively denounce, it would be an act self-harm that the Italy of today and especially of tomorrow can no longer be allowed.

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