While they differ on the date, historians agree that the idea of the teenager was invented some time in the mid-20th century. Previously a no-man’s-land between child and adulthood, it acquired a name and a definition several decades ago, but every few generations we still need to reinvent this intense stage of life and its emotional tumult.


新2代理网站So news this week that one in four 14-year-old girls (and one in 10 boys of the same age) are experiencing the symptoms of depression should detain us. It may be tempting to dismiss today’s adolescent moods, blithely, as something we have all endured. But the sources of young people’s anxiety seem to have changed quite fundamentally as growing up migrates online.


The worst cases have serious real-world consequences. One MP told me of a visit from a family who wanted help to move not just out of the local school, but out of London completely. Images of their daughter, aged 13, engaged in what used to be called heavy petting, had been shared so widely that the neighbourhood had become a hostile environment.


新2代理网站Hemmed in like this, closely watched, what happens to the important juvenile process of “finding yourself”? Instead of a range of rebellions, to be embraced or ignored depending on individual preference and character, the teenage years seem to have become an obligatory performance, a high-wire act. No wonder these depressed teenagers have stage fright. One study of the smartphone generation suggests they are even opting out of spending time with their friends. Because they shy away from going out, they are “physically safer but psychologically more vulnerable”.


新2代理网站I remember most of what I did in the 1980s, but it is comforting to know that hardly anyone else will, and not just because of the revolting mixtures of Cinzano Bianco, Malibu and Smirnoff that my friends and I smuggled on to the night bus. No one else cared. Photographs are few.

我記得自己在上世紀80年代做過的大部分事情,但值得欣慰的是別人幾乎不會記得,這不僅是因為當年我和朋友們把半干仙山露(Cinzano Bianco)、馬利寶(Malibu)和皇冠伏特加(Smirnoff)令人作嘔的混合物帶上了夜班公車。別人都不在乎。照片也寥寥無幾。

新2代理网站This drunken apprenticeship wasn’t exactly backstage with the Rolling Stones - our worst crimes probably involved eyeliner and hair gel. But these experiments, especially with boys, were necessary, and our mistakes, while keenly felt, were essentially private dramas. Not so today, where every triumph and disaster is documented and shared. If each experience has its significance multiplied, you are defined long before you are ready to tell the difference between image and reality. (Is it really a surprise that Instagram is found to be the most pernicious of the social media platforms when it comes to mental health?)

新2代理网站這種醉酒的“學徒經歷”并不像在后臺走訪滾石樂隊(Rolling Stones)那樣讓人大開眼界-我們最嚴重的“犯罪”可能還包括眼線和發膠。但這些嘗試,尤其是有男孩們參與過的那些,都是必要的,而我們犯的錯,盡管都被強烈感覺到,但本質上都是私下的大戲。如今卻不是這樣,每一點成就和不幸都會被記錄和分享。如果每一個體驗的重要性都被放大,那么在你自己準備好辨別形象與現實之前早就被別人下了定義。(人們發現Instagram是對心理健康最有害的社交媒體平臺,這真的很奇怪嗎?)

“Teenagers live their life more in public,” ponders Justine Brian, director of schools at the education support network Civitas: “They are always one Snapchat picture or Facebook post away from someone slagging them off.” She and I shared the peculiar frustration of judging a debating competition for secondary schools, supposedly on a motion about fake news. It instead unleashed a torrent of anxiety from the teenagers about managing their online personas. Our attempts to steer the sixth formers back on to the topic failed - they were possessed, as Ms Brian puts it, by “the idea that something terrible might happen online at age 16 and the rest of your life is ruined”.

“青少年的生活更公開了,”教育支持網絡Civitas的學校總監賈斯汀.布萊恩(Justine Brian)認為:“他們距離受到別人的貶損,永遠只差Snapchat的一張照片,或者Facebook的一個帖子。”她和我在給幾所中學的一場辯論賽當評委時,都產生了不尋常的挫敗感。這場辯論賽的焦點問題理應是關于假新聞,結果它引發了青少年們傾吐他們對于管理自身在線角色的焦慮。我們倆怎么都無法引導這些高中生回到正題上-按照布萊恩的說法,他們糾結于一個觀念而不可自拔,“認為在自己16歲時,可能會在網上遭遇一些可怕的事情,由此毀了自己的余生。”

新2代理网站What if a “frenemy” decides to spread lies? What if an Instagram photo is “stolen” and the poster’s good name ruined by its use to illustrate an article about underage promiscuity? This had happened to one debater’s friend in real life - the anecdote swung the audience.


We older judges agreed that our own youthful exploits had been hidden from family, from teachers and future acquaintances. Growing up without this freedom to take risks should be seen as a real deprivation, even for these outwardly articulate and confident teenagers.


This week’s report, part of government-funded longitudinal studies, shows that parents are no good at working out what is going on: they overestimate how depressed and anxious their sons feel, and seriously underestimate their daughters’ distress. Teachers also feel ill-equipped when dealing with pupils’ mental health problems, according to a separate study.


新2代理网站Paradoxically, miserable teenagers are most likely to seek out help and support from Childline online. Instead of cutting them off from the internet, evidence suggests they need help to develop better digital skills and emotional resilience, rather than an enforced smartphone detox.


新2代理网站Schools have transformed their attitude to pastoral care in recent years, it is true. Where it was once sink or swim, now we have mindfulness lessons and counsellors. But fears of stoking moral panic must not stop us noticing: some of these young people really are in trouble.