Children are stressed about exams because social media means they worry about the job market, a charity has said.
The NSPCC has seen a 11 per cent rise in counselling sessions for children affected by exam stress in the past two years.
It suggested that children who don’t read newspapers or watch the news were more likely to read about economic woe because of articles shared on social networks such as Facebook.
The charity’s Childline helpline has been inundated with calls from thousands of children worried about their SATs and GCSEs.
A spike in calls in May last year coincided with the SATs exams, which thousands of primary school children are taking this week.
Almost half of the 3,135 counselling sessions about exam stress were with 12-15 year olds, and 237 were with children aged 11 and under.
The biggest rise was in children aged 16-18, who were taking A-levels to get into university. Counselling sessions for this age group had increased by 21 per cent.
The charity said that children in their early teens were picking up on worries more commonly experienced by university students about getting a job.
They were also more likely to compare themselves with others who were also posting on social media about job searches and exam results, and to worry about the economy after overhearing their parents talking about it.
The job market is increasingly competitive as a record number of students graduate from university with 2:1 degrees and many fail to find graduate-level work.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Pressure to keep up with how much revision their friends are doing or how others are performing in exams might potentially cause stress, doubt and anxiety.
“Young people may also be more aware that they face a tough job market and this coupled with pressure at home and school is a lot to deal with.”
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Every year we hear from thousands of children who are struggling to cope with the pressure to succeed in exams.
“For some this can feel so insurmountable that it causes crippling anxiety and stress and in some cases contributes to mental health issues or even suicidal thoughts and feelings.”