Teenagers Peer at Their Problems

Socioeconomic status can affect teenagers’ perceptions of their peers’ experiences with life problems, further driving health inequities.

a graph of the number of people with their health concerns

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Look through the Department of Health and Human Services’ website about adolescent health and you will come across health-related topics ranging from obesity to mental and sexual health. But what do teens have to say about their concerns? How do they view their own health? The Pew Research Center asked 920 American teenagers between 13 and 17 about the most important problems facing their peers.

Participating teens overwhelmingly (96%) cited anxiety and depression as problems they experience. Teens also expressed concern about bullying, drug addiction, and alcohol consumption.

But it is important to note that not all teens held the same health viewpoints. For example, teen pregnancy was cited more frequently as a concern among adolescents of lower socioeconomic status (represented in this poll by family income less than $75,000). This makes sense when we consider the close relationship between family and neighborhood-level incomes and pregnancy rates.

Pew found similar disparities between the lowest and highest income groups in regard to bullying, drug addiction, poverty, and gangs. Taken together, these responses suggest how socioeconomic status can drive health inequity and affect teenagers’ perceptions of their peers’ experiences with life problems.

Databyte via Mental Health Concerns Cross Income Boundaries, but Teen Pregnancy Is Seen as a Much Bigger Problem by Teens from Lower-Income Households. Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project.