Teens Now vs. Then

Teenagers+now+have+more+access+to+technology+and+resources+which+explains+why+they+are+so+different+from+teens+from+just+a+few+years+ago.

Courtesy of Google

Teenagers now have more access to technology and resources which explains why they are so different from teens from just a few years ago.

Madi Madiha, ENN Staff

The Backstreet Boys have been replaced by Maroon 5, glass soda bottles by metal coke cans, and ‘America’s Got Talent’ by ‘Lip Sync Battle.’ These are just a few of the minor differences between teens today and teens from a few years ago. While some might argue that teenagers have been the same, rebellious, rowdy, and juvenescent, throughout generations, the changes in the school environment and in general have been apparent. 

There is no doubt that technology has advanced greatly in the last few decades and that has led to a wide array of changes. Through social media, sensitive topics have been talked about more and given a bigger platform, while in earlier years this was rarely seen. LGBTQ+ rights had not been talked about widely in academic environments until 2003 at the least, but especially until the past 5 years. Black Lives Matter movements have mostly been in action since 2013. Up until recent years, religion has also been a difficult topic to freely talk about in public schools. History teacher and Coach, Abbigayle Marion, who only graduated from high school 4 years ago, has noticed that now these topics are more talked about in schools and can be mentioned in lessons without anyone being offended. 

“When I was taking history classes that was definitely something we touched on but not something we really explored. Now we have that opportunity because teens know so much more because of social media. They’re exposed to so much more that it doesn’t shock them when we have lessons about that. And so we can go more in depth with conversations about sociology and religion or stuff like that,” said Marion. 

This exposure has widened teens horizons in recent years and they are more open to different cultures, religions, and sexualities. People have been able to strengthen their voice for things they believe in with less fear of being shut down. Sophomore, Madison Nguyen, believes that this openness has even helped cases of bullying go down because of how inclusive teens are now compared to back then. 

“I think now we’re a lot more open and we’re taking more of a stand against issues in the world like climate change, LGBTQ, and BLM. People are definitely more respectful towards others. I remember my parents telling me when they first moved to the United States there was a lot more discrimination. But, I also see stories online about a lot of people going through racism and stuff in high school so maybe it’s just the way our school is because I haven’t really gone through that and I know a lot of my friends also have not,” Nguyen said.

While it is true that teenagers today are speaking up about more sensitive topics and being exposed to the realities of the world, many believe that it does not necessarily mean that they are more respectful than they used to be. Sophomore, Seraiah Davidson, feels that teens now are more comfortable with being rude and disrespectful. 

“I don’t really think our generation is more respectful. I feel like everyone is so rude to each other now and back then they were taught to treat people with respect, no matter what,” said Davidson.

While it may be true that teens now have broader horizons than teens back then, AP Human Geography teacher, Dena Marlar, believes the exposure has made teens more defensive and sensitive when people do share their opinions. She believes that now it is easier for teens to feel that personal opinions might not be inclusive to everyone else, and therefore they take conversations more delicately. 

“I think society today is grooming teenagers to be more accepting, but also more sensitive. Back in my day, things were said and whatever, you didn’t get offended by it. Today, even the simplest comment is going to get somebody in the room riled up. We just weren’t as sensitive,” said Marlar.

One of the other biggest differences between teens now versus then is their way of schooling. Schools are now focusing on career readiness as opposed to just college readiness. Not only Ben Barber, but schools themselves offer courses for whatever students’ interests may be; medical courses for aspiring doctors, advanced culinary classes for future chefs, and forensic science classes for people who want to explore their detective sides. Marion appreciates that her students now have these opportunities to advance their careers even before college. 

“When I was in high school you were prepping for college. That was always what you were prepping for. Now, you have like tech schools and Ben Barber and you can graduate with your associates. So when I was here, career wasn’t talked about as much as career readiness. So I think now getting prepared for a career is awesome. I think high school has gotten more and more getting you ready for life beyond high school. It used to be ‘get good grades so you can go to college or get a good job.’ Now, it’s ‘okay what classes can you take in order to prepare you for your major career outside of college’ and stuff like that,” said Marion. 

One thing is for sure, teenagers have definitely changed over the years whether through diversity or influences at school. Through pop culture, social media, and access to more resources, the dynamic of teenagers has shifted widely.