New study reveals worsening difficulties for teens

Young adolescents have “greater peer problems” and fewer friends than their counterparts a decade ago, with girls especially experiencing “increased emotional difficulties”, a major report finds.

The study from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) says teenage girls’ increased emotional issues are negatively impacting their relations with peers and parents – particularly their mothers – and their engagement with education.

Titled The Changing Social Worlds of 13-Year-Olds, the report finds girls are spending more time online than boys – a reversal of the situation a decade earlier.

Drawing on data from two cohorts of children, born in 1998 and 2008, in the longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study, the report analyses their lives at age 13 in 2011/12 and 2021/22 respectively. The decade between was one of “considerable social and policy change, including reform of the junior cycle, growing digitalisation and the disruption of the pandemic”, leading to “very significant changes in the lives of 13-year-olds”, it says.