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Why are today’s young people more fragile than previous generations? When did young people lose their ability to cope with the ups and downs of life? Oregon will now allow students up to five days of absences for mental health reasons in addition to the sick day policy. Oregon already has one of the highest absenteeism rates in the nation at 20.5%, according to the Oregon Department of Education website. The rate was the fourth worst chronic absenteeism in 2016-2017.

There are many reasons why today’s youth tend to be more fragile than previous generations. A major one is helicoptering parents. This type of parenting leaves no opportunities for their children to roam, play and have freedom without adult supervision. Plus, parental attitudes toward unstructured, unsupervised time for children and teenagers have caused societal tension for parents who believe in it. A case in point: In 2005 a parent of a fourth-grader was hit with a “tsunami of outrage” when she allowed him to take the subway home alone from a department store in Manhattan. Along that vein, how many children, teenagers walk or bike to school unescorted? Reasonable opportunities to be free of parental supervision provide immeasurable healthy independence-building for children.

But the major reason in decreasing youths resilience today are screen and in particular the smartphone. There is evidence that suggests that since the smartphone became ubiquitous there has been an increase in depressive symptoms, a decline in happiness among teens, a spike in loneliness and entering college students feeling depressed and overwhelmed, mostly because kids no longer have face-to-face conversations, get-togethers, etc. and rely solely on their phones and social media for socialization. It’s up to parents to help their kids to make phones an accessory to life rather than “a life."

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Yvonne Mccallister

Corvallis (July 22)

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