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The Contender
Con (against)
19 Points

Teenagers Need to Have More Leeway

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/12/2013 Category: People
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,764 times Debate No: 40428
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (3)
Votes (4)




I don't think that teenagers have ever felt this bad. Mental health issues & stress levels have increased by far too much in current teens. It's harder than it ever has been. We have pressure to do well in school and to get into a prestigious University, to come out and find a good job and then to get a well-paying salary. On top of all of this pressure, the media puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on teenagers (especially females) to have certain name-brand clothing, be the "correct" weight & be the "ideal" body type and to make everyone want to strive for absolute perfection. Well there's the obvious fact that perfection is literally impossible to achieve. So when teens are trying to reach perfection and they obviously can't, it causes an immense frustration. This builds anxiety levels, stress levels & can create an overall low self-esteem and sadness.

Along with mental health issues, Canadian families seem to just keep on going downhill. The divorce rate in Canada is still on a rise. No child EVER will handle a divorce between their parents well. Some kids may deal with it or come out of it more calmly than others, but I can guarantee you that at some point in the midst of all of the intensity there was some sort of negativity going on inside of them.

According to Psychology Today, the 10 signs that a teenager may be stressed are:
1. Poor sleep
2. Frequent headaches and/or gastrointestinal problems
3. Anger outbursts
4. Lack of concentration
5. Increased levels of anxiety and/or panic episodes
6. Overeating/Under-eating
7. Increased sadness
8. Social withdraw
9. Irritability
10. Lack of motivation
I can easily say that out of all of my peers that I have been around for the past 3 and a half years (currently in first semester of Grade 12), all of my friends have experienced all 10 of these more than once. That's definitely not normal and something needs to be done about it!

Psychology Today also states that teenagers are expected to being doing too much at once. Signs are:
1. Teen doesn't have time to have a social life.
2. Teen is staying up late a lot, just to get schoolwork finished.
3. Teen is constantly saying things that indicate they're overwhelmed, such as "I've got too much to do." or "I can't get it all finished."
4. Teen is an overachiever and freaks out if things are not done "perfectly".
5. Teen has a schedule that is busier than yours (school, sports, clubs, jobs, church, etc.).
I can easily say that I no longer have a social life (I don't talk to my friends anymore and I've lost all of my bestfriends), I stay up until about 1 AM or 2 AM every night just to finish homework and then have to get up at 6 AM the next morning to be ready for school, I'm constantly having to brush people off with the statement that the article clearly stated, "I've got too much to do.", I'm a COMPLETE overachiever (I rewrite all of my notes, make extensive study notes & practice tests for all of my tests/exams at school that MUST be typed...) and my schedule consists of waking up, working out, going to school, doing homework, going to dance, coming home and doing more homework and then going to bed. There's literally NO TIME for any kind of leisure activities, which is definitely not right for a 17 year-old! I realize that everyone's life is different and that doing all of the extracurricular activities I do are not mandatory, but those extracurricular activities are proof that are going to help me get into University; there's pressure to stay in them even though it's close to over 20 hours of dance a week. Then there's the pressure to have good grades or else you won't even be considered by the Universities you're applying to.

The rising pressure on teenagers needs to STOP. I know multiple...actually, TOO MANY people at my school with depression, anxiety disorders and an extremely high amount that self-harm. None of these feelings or actions are okay to deal with. Relieving at least some of the pressure off of them will help them feel better and achieve better things within their life time. In reality, relieving pressure will only help them do better!


Hi! Thanks for posting this debate. Teen depression is a very important issue, however I disagree with your opening statement and quite a few of your arguments. For the record, I am 21 so have just come out of 'teenhood' and can relate to a lot of teen issues while also seeinng it from an outside perspective.

In my argument I'll be making some general statements and also commenting on some of the arguments you made:

Pro: I don't think that teenagers have ever felt this bad.
First of all this is something that I would have to disagree with straight away. Teenagers 500 years ago would be expected to plough fields all day, and were practically slaves to their parent. They would not have any access to education at all. 200 years ago teenagers would have been expected to provide income for their family, sweeping chimneys or cleaning homes. Teens 50 years ago would have been a part of the horror of two world wars. We are living in the best times there ever have been for teens and adults alike.

My main refutation to your points is that none of the issues you have pointed out apply only to teens, and in fact the issues are usually far worse in adults. The average age for a first depressive episode in Major Depressive Disorder is in the patient's 30's or 40's. Mid life crisies are incredibly common and are often accompanied by a feeling of worthlessness in adults.

A persons teenage years are a time where you are overflowing with hormones and emotions, but it is also an incredibly important time to learn to deal with the issues that will undoubtedly affect you in adulthood. Regarding those 10 signs teenagers are depressed, quite a few of them can be put down to hormones, but even if they weren't, you could apply the same list to people in their 40's or 50's! People in their 40's and 50's often have the additional responsibility of putting food on the table, paying rent, not only for themselves but often for their own children!

Regarding some of the signs you posted.
Pro: 1. Teen doesn't have time to have a social life
You supported this saying that you yourself have felt your social life slip away. However school is the time in your life where you will probably have the most friends. I'm not sure about your parents, but most adults see their social group, (and social lives) shrink and shrink and shrink as they get older (mine certainly has, and I'm only just out of my teens!). I'd take a guess and say that your parents social group is significantly smaller than yours. (This is generally the case).

Pro: 5. Teen has a schedule that is busier than yours
This is a classic case of cognitive bias, I don't know about your case personally, but I know that while I was at sports practice, (where I had been taken to by my parents), my parents would then be taking my sister to band practice or whatever. It wasn't until I drove my sister to her piano lesson that I realised how much time parents commit to their kids. I would have to drive 15 minutes to get my sister there, drive back home, and then do it again just 1 hour later. Realistically that is 1.5 hours of my day gone just driving my sister (it is difficult to do something productive in the 30 mins between picking her up and dropping her off). Multiply that by any siblings you have, and you end up an incredibly busy time for parents dedicated just to their children. This is on top of work hours, and any other things parents may need to do (cook dinner, file taxes etc).

As you are an overachieving student it seems only fair to compare you with overachieving adults. A lot of my friends have recently graduated college, and are working for free as interns, putting in 12 hours a day at the office for ZERO pay. The biggest complaint I hear from them is that they are not working for themselves (as you do in school or college, the work you purely for your own benefit) but they are doing grunt work for their bosses. Every piece of homework that you complete or assignment you hand in only benefits you, whereas work you do in the office can often be unfulfilling. This article how the 70 hour work week is becoming more and more common. 10 hours a day (9am-9pm with no lunch break - six days of the week). Unfortunately the amount of time you are expected to put into work only increases as you get older. And the stakes only raise too. An adult missing an 'assignment' can result in them losing their job, and being unable to support their family.

Pro: the media puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on teenagers [...] be the "correct" weight & be the "ideal" body type
While I do agree with this, it is not an issue just for teens, I am in my twenties and lots of men and women feel under immense pressure to look and dress the correct way. Adults also have the increased pressure of looking presentable for employment, your teenage years are a time that you can express yourself and dress goth or prep, neither of which wouls be acceptable in most workplaces. Adult eating disorders are on a major rise, while it has classically been a teen issue, this is because it is more likely to be diagnosed in teens (who have parents watching over them) than in adults. This change is reflected in the institutions that deal with eating disorders, the University of North Carolina's Eating Disorders Program was designed for adolescents—now half of its patients are over 30 years old.

Stress is an unfortunate but inevitable part of every humans life, not just teens. Once people hit the working world this amount of stress only ramps up, and if it were not for the stressful times we had as teens, where we had out parents and friends to help us out then we would not be able to handle the even more difficult times in adulthood such as unemployment and bankruptcy. A lot of adults wish they could return to their teen years (I already do!) and the main reason is due to stress.

Debate Round No. 1


Con: I don't think teenagers have ever felt this bad
Yes, I do see your point on the high amount of physical labour that teens likely had to go through with 500 or 200 years ago. But 500 or 200 years ago, education was not a priority. The priority of education for teenagers nowadays is replacing the hard, physical labour of the teenagers of the past. Anybody who continued their schooling further than expected in the past was part of the upper class; a higher social status who gets a lot of their money handed down from generation to generation. The world has only changed what's expected from teenagers. In the past, it was more physical-labour based. Now, we're expected to have a high mental capacity for creativity, knowledge & adaptation. And not to mention the fact that a lot of teens have those assets for school, but also work a physically demanding job out of school hours as well.

Con #1: Social Life
I can easily say that every parent that I know has a MUCH higher amount of friends than any other student in my high school. When teens reach this time in their life when they have to be pushed to get into an amazing school, all they care about is getting a 95% average. They dedicate all of their time, every little bit, to studying. And if they're not studying, they either have a part-time job to help pay for post-secondary or they're in extracurricular activities to prove to the Universities that they're applying to that they don't just sit around all day and that they can balance multiple things at once. And I'm for sure not the only one who as "felt my social life slip away". MANY of my peers have stopped talking to their best friends because they simply don't have time. They somewhat socialize with the peers that they sit near in class, and that's it. Nothing more.

Con #5: Busy Schedule
When you finish your post-secondary education, you're likely to go out and use that degree to get yourself a job. The average work day consists of 8 hours at the office (or whatever you setting you happen to work at). If you put that into perspective with a teenager, the average teenager wakes up at 6 AM - 7 AM, attends school from 9 AM - 3 PM (6 hours of work), then comes home to MORE work (Grade 9 & Grade 10 students are expected to have 1-2 hours of homework a night; Grade 11 & Grade 12 students are expected to have 2-3 hours of homework a night). That already pushes the 6 hours spent at school up to 7-9 hours, and we haven't even taken into consideration that the student may have a work shift, varying from a 3 hour shift to a 12 hour shift. If you add up the lowest amount that the student could possibly work (3 hours), that's 6 hours of school + 2 hours of homework + 3 hours of work = 11 hours. That's more than the average work day that an adult does. And when the adult comes home from work, they have the tasks of getting dinner ready, organizing their children (depending on the age of their children & how much assistance they may need) and possibly any other work they have to do for their job, etc. Most adults I know have it pretty easy going compared to their teenage years. Both of my parents & both of my step-parents, as well as both of my dance teachers have said that their teenage years were "hell" compared to what they're living like now. As well as every therapist that I've ever had (I think I've had around 5 in total) has told me to "persevere and push through; this is the hardest part of your life". And they obviously know what they're talking about.

Con: Pressure from the Media
Yes, everybody DOES get pressure from the media. But a lot of people who work for the media (eg. market research analyst, sales representative...) have degrees in Psychology. Why? Because their job is to get into the minds of who they're targeting. And there's the obvious fact that a majority of adolescents are oblivious to what's out there; they believe anything when they see it and don't take the time to look into it. These workers who are promoting advertisements directly at teenagers are getting into their heads and filling it with unnecessary & insensitive crap, for the reason that they want the teen to buy their product. Example: a teenage girl at the mall sees a size 0 model in the window of a clothing store. She'll think: "oh, she's skinny. Skinny girls likely shop there...let's go in. Maybe the clothes will hide my '20 extra pounds'." And regarding the workplace, teenagers will NEVER get hired if they have piercings or tattoos to the extreme; you can't express yourself when you're working. And there's dress codes in schools. A lot of teachers will get offended by the way people dress. You can't wear tank-tops, hats, hoods, shorts, tight pants.....the list goes on. You can't express yourself any more than the formal dress attire that an adult would have in the workplace.


It is true that expectations have changed, and indeed increased! But it is still wrong to say that teenagers have it the worst now compared to past years.

With regards to social life, I have to completely disagree with your statement that teenagers have less friends than adults. I want to steer this argument away from your own personal experiences (it may be true that your parents have more friends than you or your own friends) and push it towards the average teenage experience, as I don't know your personal situation and it would be unfair to me to comment on it and I don't want to seem patronizing.

Facebook friends is not completely indicative of real life friends but it gives a good estimate. It's pretty clear that teenagers have more friends than adults. I would suggest asking your parents how many friends they see on a regular basis. Now compare that to the amount of friends you see every day at school. You will only find as you grow older that friends slip away, that is not a trial of the teenager, that is simply a fact of growing up. As someone who has had to move away from their hometown for work, I have gone from having a good social life (even though I studied hard, got into a very good school etc) of catching up with friends while at school, and then often seeing them on weekends to just being acquaintances with 2 or 3 people from my area.

I think you are making an unfair comparison from the most hard working of teenagers to the average adult. While it's true that the average adult may only work from 9-5 (which still equals a school day + homework), you are using the example of an incredibly hard working teenager. The maximum legal limit for working hors during the school week is 20 hours. So in a week we have 6*5 hours of school + (for the most hard workign teenagers) 4*5 hours of homework + 20outside work. Then lets say on top of homework they have a special assignment due in on monday which takes up 6 hours on sunday afternoon (I'm well aware that extra deadlines can mean way more work, I had plenty of them at college!). That adds up to 76 hours in a week, a lot to be sure, but I have never met a teenager who realistically works more than this, and I have friends who have gone to Harvard, Brown, Oxford & Cambridge. Now to take an example of an intern in their 20's, have a look at this article:

"We typically work 15 hours a day or more and you would not find a harder worker than him."

"Six and a half days is standard. You will go in at the weekend, you might get a Sunday afternoon off."

That works out to almost 100 hours a week, 20 more than the most hard working of teenagers. Such hours can end in tragedy such as in the article where an intern died. Now you may be saying that this is way more than the average adult, but the hours you quoted are far more than the average teenager. Many adults put in less time than this, but so do many teenagers. There are plenty of teenagers who simply don't care about getting into a good school, or can do it without putting much work in (we all know one student who seems to get the highest grades without doing any work). I have a younger sister in high school and while I do think she works very long hours (especially for her age, 15) and has a few hours of homework each night, while also attending dance classes, she still has time to socialise with her friends, sometimes going to the mall or something with her friends. Not to mention that extra curricular activities are usually a break from stress! Most people would consider dance classes or athletics training to be a break from stress for them, a few hours a week where they can run off their energy. If you are treating extra curricular activities as extra stress, then I think you're approachign them from the wrong perspective. They're meant to be fun!

Your example about size 0 model can just as much refer to adults rather than teenagers. Most of the models in magazines (male and female) are in their 20's, and these ads are as much targeted to adults as they are to teenagers. I would also disagree with your comments about dress in the workplace. A teenager can wear jeans and a t-shirt at school, while most adults are required to wear uniform or muted business wear. Your comment regarding piercings and tattoos is simply false, plenty of people (adults and teens alike) can have piercings or tattoos. And even if you have them in places that isn't covered in an item of clothing, lots of retail stores (hot topic for example) will allow their employees to have tattoos. However you are more likely to be allowed piercings/tattoos in a retail job (which have a higher % of teens), than in an office.

Finally if you have had 5 different therapists then I think that your experience is hardly indicative of the normal teenagers. It may seem like adults have it easy going, but that is often because they have learned to deal with stress through growing up, parents often keep issues such as divorce and monetary issues away from their kids, which can cause a lot of stress for the parents. When I was a teenager I was super stressed with getting the right grades and getting into a good universrity, but as I've grown up I've realised that these things are a blessing in disguise. Having exams and universities to get into you means have goals, things you can aim for in life. Teens have a summer holiday that they can look forward to, a sense of closure and progression at the end of each year. Now that I am an adult I have (along with most other early 20's) been thrust into a world where you suddenly have to figure out what you are going to do with your life on your own, and take on responsiblities such as bills and rent, and deal with the thought of only having 2 weeks of vacation a year for the next 50 years!
Debate Round No. 2
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by LAQUAINE 2 years ago
It's not like life gets easier so instead of going from 0 to 60 in mere seconds, how about you gradually accelerate a little bit into the life of an adult.
Posted by TheInterlang 2 years ago
I think what the pro was talking about was not just teens VS adults, but teens of today VS the past. Today's society is too much of a competitive rat race.

The hours of school may be less than those of work, but its the time that counts. A work day is typically 9 to 5. HS starts around 7!

There has actually been a brain study showing how teens like to sleep in. The "biological clock" is set forward. As a teen, I can totally relate to that. School should be later in the day, not earlier.
Posted by Nilly 2 years ago
Thanks for the debate TapQueen96. Good luck with your studies and I hope you get into a good school!
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by dtaylor971 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO has it really tough, CON showed me, but most don't. CON wins for superior arguments.
Vote Placed by austinlaam 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: It's obvious really. Pro made claims that couldn't be backed up. Con refuted incredibly and had exceptional rebuttal arguments.
Vote Placed by SloppyJoe6412 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "I don't think that teenagers have ever felt this bad" Spoken like a true teenager ;-) The entire body of Pro's argument is based on personal feeling. Had the topic been "I need to have more leeway", she would have had a shot at it. Con looked at teenagers as a group and made solid points.
Vote Placed by Naysayer 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro argued from a completely personal and biased standpoint. Arguments were very weak. Both could use work on sources. Out of the three sources actually cited, Pro's was superfluous and Con's were both anecdotal with the only facts cited being opinion polls.