Anxiety increasing among Arizona children in the digital era

Aug 9, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 6:18 am

Roughly 36% of high school students in Arizona reported their mental health “was most of the time or always not good,” according CDC research. (Stock Photo)

(Stock Photo)

PHOENIX — In a time when technology allows people to connect with others more than ever before, an increasing number of children are feeling alone.

Roughly 36% of high school students in Arizona reported their mental health “was most of the time or always not good,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent “High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey,” which was conducted back in 2021. That’s about 7% more than the national average.

It’s something that Dr. Carla C. Allan, the division chief of psychology and the Hagenah Family Endowed Chair in Psychology with Phoenix Children’s said she sees in her office every day.

“We’re continuing to see increases in the frequency and intensity of anxiety that youth are experiencing,” Allan said.

What’s causing anxiety in today’s youth?

Allan told KTAR News 92.3 FM that this is due to a myriad of factors.

“Kids are feeling a great deal of uncertainty about their futures, not only in part due to all of the things they see on social media that are not real representations of life and comparing themselves to people who look perfect, and of course you feel anxious when you don’t live up to those standards that aren’t real to begin with,” Allan said.

Technology also allows kids to be well-informed, which can bring stress all by itself.

“News and climate change has sort of lent itself very well to this feeling of existential dread that adolescents are certainly verbalizing in my office each day,” Allan said.

Allan explained while online platforms allow kids to connect with others with similar beliefs, that can sometimes backfire.

“Youth are also experiencing sort of echo chambers on social media and those kinds of websites where when you’re hanging around other kids who are highly anxious, it just serves to heighten your own anxiety,” she said.

“When we get stuck in this sort of a doom loop of things related to body image, and eating disorders are increasing during this time too, and doom messages around climate, it does really create this culture of dread.”

Look for signs of anxiety

Allan said parents should watch out for signs that their children are struggling.

“You will get kids expressing worry directly. They want to know what’s coming up next. They want to talk about future things, maybe even months ahead. You’ll know they have a hard time handling flexibly changes that occur with regards to uncertainty…” she said.

Anxiety can impact sleep, so many kids may become fatigued over time, and many children may seek assurance more often.

Allan said parents can help by being role models on how to react to anxiety by providing examples of how their children can cope and helping them get involved in real experiences.

“When it comes to anxiety, there’s kind of nothing to it but to do it. We got to get out there and try things, push our comfort zone. Only through real experiences can we learn how to cope,” Allan said.

The following are examples of anxiety in children according to the CDC:

  • Separation anxiety – Being afraid when away from parents.
  • Phobias – Extreme fear about a specific thing or situation.
  • Social anxiety – Being very afraid of school and places where there are people.
  • General anxiety – Being worried about the future and about bad things happening.
  • Panic Disorder – Having repeated episodes of sudden, unexpected, intense fear that come with symptoms like heart pounding, having trouble breathing or feeling dizzy, shaky or sweaty.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Husky arizona shelters...

Colton Krolak

Here’s why Maricopa County is seeing a rise in Huskies in shelters

Animal shelters in Arizona are seeing a growing number of Huskies enter the shelter system making them among the most common breeds in shelters.

1 hour ago

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks announced approximately $240 million in awards for the e...

Kevin Stone

Research and development hub based at ASU gets nearly $40M in funding from CHIPS Act

A regional innovation hub based at Arizona State University was awarded nearly $40 million in federal funding to promote technological advances.

1 hour ago

Four schools in Arizona were recently recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2023 by the U....

SuElen Rivera

4 Arizona schools named as 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Four schools in Arizona were recently recognized as 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. 

1 hour ago

bowls of different ice cream dishes at Tom's Incredible Ice Cream...

Tom’s Incredible Ice Cream serving free scoops during Scottsdale grand opening Friday

Tom's Incredible Ice Cream is set to debut this Friday near Old Town at Scottsdale Road and Second Street.

2 hours ago

Bobby Holmes...

Silver Alert issued for woman last seen in Phoenix

A silver alert has been issued for a woman last seen Tuesday near 35th Street and Pinochet Avenue in Phoenix. 

9 hours ago

East Bowl Amphitheater  at Scottsdale Civic Center. (Civic Center Live Facebook page photos)...

Scottsdale to unveil updated civic center after 2 years of renovations

The city of Scottsdale is preparing to officially unveil its new civic center remodel this fall.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Anxiety increasing among Arizona children in the digital era