Bengaluru, October 20, 2023: Health and wellness knowledge platform Happiest Health conducted ‘Are You Listening? – Voices Of the Adolescent Survey 2023’, a comprehensive research survey that voices the concerns of adolescents among 564 children, from Classes 8 to 12, across 22 schools in Bengaluru and Mumbai.
The results highlighted the communication gap between parents, educators, and children in a world of increasing stress from technology and career pressure. The results were presented at the ‘Get Set, Grow! 2023: Children’s Wellness Summit. The study focused on screen time, extra-curricular activities, and adolescents’ relationships with parents and teachers in the two formative environments – home and school.
At the ‘Get Set Grow! 2023: Children’s Wellness Summit’, experts from various fields discussed the findings. The eminent panel included Mr Akash Ryall, CEO of Bethany Education Institutions, Ms Maryanne Pais, HOD Psychology, St Joseph’s College of Commerce, and Ms. Sulata Mitra, a parent, and Brand Influencer The Panel Discussion was moderated by Dr Sharon Rajkumar, Happiness and Wellness Evangelist, Happiest Health.
Mr Akash Ryall – CEO, of Bethany Education Institutions, Bengaluru said, “Some people think that children today are entitled, but they are impatient. If we practice qualities like forgiveness and humility at home, children will emulate whatever they see. We need to practice and demonstrate empathy, even as parents. This is especially true for children in the world of social media – everyone is so busy getting likes that they forget that people around them need help.”
With reference to their relationship with their parents, what adolescents want most is an environment of trust and a non-judgemental listening ear. While most students were happy with their relationships with their parents, they expressed the desire for parents to spend more time with, trust, and understand them, listen openly, not compare them with others, and be included in family decisions. While 27% of them were comfortable talking to their parents about anything, nearly three-fourths expressed discomfort talking about critical issues like romantic relationships, sex, and sexuality.
Talking about the need to have open conversations, Ms. Maryanne Pais, HOD Psychology, St Joseph’s College of Commerce, emphasized that everyday behavior is also important. “We have to understand that conversations on sexuality are socially situated. We as adults are not comfortable talking to other adults. More important than telling children directly to have these conversations, is the everyday behavior around these topics. Creating a comfortable space for discussion is crucial.”
Schools form a crucial environment for adolescent growth, academically and in terms of social confidence. While students reported feeling safe and comfortable in school, they wished to be able to talk to teachers more openly and to have less homework. Among the respondents, 49% of students reported that they were unable to talk to teachers, feeling discomfort in sharing about their personal lives, academics, family problems, or friends. However, 35% felt that they could talk to their teachers about anything. 58% of the students felt stressed by homework, and a greater number of girls than boys felt this way. When dealing with stress, adolescents mostly tend to go to parents, family, siblings, or friends, and alarmingly 14% of students had no one to go to when stressed.
The study found that more than 25% of high school students and 68% of higher secondary school students spend more than 2 hours on screens daily with the majority of content being focused on social media. Extra-curricular activities took a back seat as children went to higher classes, with less than an hour a day being spent, and one-third of the girls did not spend any time pursuing any extra-curricular activity.
“Adolescence is a particularly difficult time for any person, and the institutions of parents, family, and school are critical in helping teenagers navigate these confusing times. Through this Voice of the Adolescent survey, we wanted to delve into their world and help the family and school understand their needs. At Happiest Health, we hope to bring home the importance of non-judgemental support to parents, caregivers, and teachers, to help create a nurturing and positive environment for growing up.”, said Anindya Chowdhury, President & CEO, of Happiest Health.