More often than not, we feel like we’re alone throughout middle and high school. It’s a weird feeling – we’re in the same building with all of our peers for hours five days out of the week, and social media can have us feeling connected and lonely at the same time.
Even with that feeling of being alone, middle and high school is an exciting but also stressful time to make and maintain friendships. You may gravitate towards classmates, use social media to find friends your age around the world based on your interests, or try to keep in contact with those you don’t go to school with or don’t have classes with.
It can feel almost crucial and absolutely necessary to have solid friendships when you’re a teen – adolescents have a higher desire and need to be accepted amongst peers, and the relationships around us can play an important role in who we become and interact with others as adults. Overall, teen friendships can play a vital role when it comes to your mental health, not just as a teen, but as you get older too.
Studies have shown that those who have strong connections both at home – which includes siblings – and at school when they’re teens are 66% less likely to experience mental illness or risky behavior. These risky behaviors include using drugs, misusing prescription drugs, and getting STDs. Additionally, having close friendships can help decrease stress levels and help you feel more secure and confident in adulthood.
The thing is, it can be hard finding and keeping those friendships when you’re a teen. You may get into arguments with others over the smallest things, and the reactions to them can make or break a friendship. Bullying – whether it’s in person or online – from people you consider to be friends can have a toxic effect on your self-esteem and self-worth, which can then affect how you trust others and make friends as an adult.
There are naturally a lot of benefits when it comes to friendships, but the ones we make as teenagers can have a powerful impact. This shouldn’t put pressure on you or force you to find and make important friendships, but at the very least, seeking a support system and finding those that you feel comfortable and safe around can help contribute to your development and sense of self.
How is your child’s support system? What were your friendships like in high school? How do you think they affected you now?