[column] What’s wrong with little girls?

Despite all the words of power from Beyoncé and others – Who runs the world? girls! – Has the situation of Dutch girls deteriorated significantly in terms of quality of life in the past four years; They are more likely to exhibit problem behavior as they catch up in questionable areas.

For years, Holland could sit back and relax when conducting international research into youth mental health. Dutch youths gave an average of 7.8 points to their quality of life and, for example, always scored highly on the question of whether they could talk well about their problems with their father and/or mother. New figures from the world HBSCThis fall’s research, however, is food for thought. For twenty years, researchers from Utrecht University, Trembos and SCP have conducted an HBSC survey every four years (Healthy behavior in school-age children) From. To this end, they ask thousands of young people between the ages of 11 and 16 (the eighth group of primary school and the lower four years of secondary school) about topics related to well-being and health. Or how are you and how do you live in good health? Because of its broad international structure, the HBSC provides a wealth of information and is an important pillar of our government and lifestyle institutions.

Unprecedented increases
The latest edition – published in September 2022 – shows an unprecedented increase in problems among girls, especially girls in secondary education. In terms of quality of life, these girls scored an average of 6.7. But there is more disturbing data. Several times a week, 7 out of 10 girls suffer from psychosomatic complaints such as headaches, stomach and back pain, sleep problems and feeling tense. The number of girls suffering from emotional problems such as mood swings and anxiety disorders even doubled in four years, to 44%. And also in problem behavior — think hyperactivity and attention issues — girls are now catching up to boys. “No such large increases have occurred in previous years,” the researchers wrote. Finally, the girls have made a questionable fix on doping over the past four years. where girls have long lagged behind boys in terms of smoking, alcohol and drugs; Girls now smoke and drink as much as boys do at that age and are not far behind in their use of cannabis, XTC and laughing gas.

Ruminate with your best friend
The Corona pandemic still echoes these numbers. The fieldwork took place in the fall of 2021, but that does not fully explain why the girls did not adhere to this method. After all, we also see an increase in mental problems among boys, but to a lesser extent. Why? Still looking for explanations. I found the explanation that girls tend to ruminate more than boys was interesting. Co-rumination — I didn’t know the term either — means over-discussing concerns, problems, and negative feelings like fear, anger, or sadness with a friend or friends. This behavior can deepen an emotional connection between friends, but it can also magnify issues when you become the focus of conversations. Picture it, girls sharing ruminations on their best friend. Doesn’t shared rumination also have an online variant, I thought, thinking of the many ‘explicit’ videos on TikTok and Insta? We know that girls spend more time on social media (compared to guys who play more games). Social media certainly brings young people a lot of positive experiences and feelings, but there is also a downside. Not only do algorithms make cat videos go viral, but there is also plenty of content about how you feel, what you do to feel healthy, and how you have fun with your friends. In addition, the necessary harmful content passes. Girls have more trouble than boys limit scrolling in timelines anyway. 54% of girls often use social media so as not to think about annoying things and 7% of them have problems using social media. For example, young people often argue with family members about social media and lose interest in other activities such as hobbies and sports.

More eye
We’re past the coronavirus pandemic, but we can’t wait and see if little girls get better on their own. Mental problems often manifest themselves at an early age in the teenage brain. For example, if you struggled with anxiety as an adult, it likely started during adolescence. This is why it is so important that we look for solutions. After all, individual stories are hidden behind all these characters. Stories about desperate and unhappy girls who do not feel comfortable. For starters, let’s pay more attention to the girls.

This article was written by Yvonne Van Sark, Partner and Consultant at Youngworks and was previously published in MarketingTribune 2020, 2022.

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