Television and Other Influences
You and your kids have seen and maybe compared yourselves to the idealized images of presumably perfect people on the television and in print. What happens when kids are constantly pressured to be thin, beautiful, successful, and happy? They see commercials for smoking or using alcohol where everyone appears happy and carefree. Movies tout the riches and happiness that can be bought through wrongdoings. Songs promise true love. These influences are strong and obviously make lasting impressions.
What's Wrong with an Ideal World?
There's certainly nothing wrong with a child wanting to be the best or desiring happiness. But what happens when kids realize that life is not that easy, and that these things are not the absolute predictors for happiness? Typically they respond by blaming themselves, believing that they are failures or just not good enough. Other kids work harder, convinced that if they do, happiness is right around the corner.
Using the outside world to create a secure self-image has the tendency to backfire. These are the kids who succumb to many types of pressure, and when things do not work out, they become depressed. They simply lack any internal sense of self, so when the external world disappoints them, they have nothing to fall back on for support.
Influences on Teenagers
How could your teen not be exposed to all of the things going on in the world today? War, post-9/11 issues, and natural disasters are on TV and in the papers. They have the Internet for communicating and getting involved in things they shouldn't or that they are not prepared to handle.
If that's not enough, they are experiencing the coming of age in an era where there are more sexually transmitted diseases that ever before. There are more drugs to experiment with, and they have more freedom than you might have had as a teen. It's no wonder that they feel much more unsafe, hopeless, and uncertain than their parents. Your teen's reactions to these added stressors can easily contribute to depression.