Kate Snow Investigates the Pandemic's Effect on Teen Mental Health: 'Our Kids Are Struggling'

NBC News senior national correspondent Kate Snow is investigating how education during the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting mental health among teenagers.

In the network's weeklong series, "Kids Under Pressure," Snow, who also anchors the Sunday edition of NBC Nightly News, looks into the results of a study done in partnership with Challenge Success, a nonprofit of Stanford Graduate's School of Education.

Most students — 56 percent — reported that their school-related stress has gone up during the current health crisis, and the increased pressure was even more present in female students and Black, Hispanic and Latino students (63 percent for both groups).

In PEOPLE's exclusive clip at Wednesday's edition of the series, Snow speaks with a student who says that one of the hardest parts of learning during the pandemic is the amount of required screen time.

"We're looking at our computer screen all day, and then at the end of the day, we get hours of homework at the end," the student says. "It's just computer time on computer time. And it's just like, you never really get a break from being away from your computer."

"And especially as teenagers, we're so obsessed with technology," she continues. "Now I kind of just want to get away from it. It's not something I could use to relax. It's something that stresses me out."

For Snow, 51, the narrative hits close to home — she has two teenagers currently trying to navigate high school themselves.

"As a mom, this school year has been enormously difficult," the newscaster tells PEOPLE. "Kids, my own kids included, are struggling with sitting in front of a screen all day long." 

"Homework doesn't feel any different than school anymore, so there's a blurring of the line between school and home," she continues. "It's tiring, it's exhausting and it's stressful." 

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Snow adds that in addition to the increased pressures, kids aren't able to socialize in the same way they used to.

"Teenagers are supposed to be hanging out with their friends and they can't," she says. "They hang out virtually, but it's really hard to socialize in person right now. So developmentally, I think teens are at a really critical point in their lives and unfortunately, this pandemic is hitting them harder than a lot of other age groups."

Snow stresses that being open about the effect the pandemic is having on kids' mental health is critical, especially as some schools weigh whether or not to return to in-person learning.

"I just feel really strongly that we have to shine a light on mental health, and particularly right now, because our kids are struggling," she says. "And as we consider policy choices — like, 'Should they be in school?' — this is part of the dialogue. This is an essential part of the dialogue."

Snow's full report will air Wednesday on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt at 6:30 p.m. ET.

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. 

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