A Letter to Our Parents: The Lives of Teens are Changing

HHS senior Samantha Serocke facetimes with a friend. Photographer: Rachel Fischer

Remember the good old teen days when you went outside and socialized with your friends face-to-face? Because teenagers today are constantly exposed to cellphones and other technology, their mode of communication is forever changing. If you think that the life of a teenager in 2016 is similar to how life as a teenager was for you, you’re dead wrong.

Over the years, many advancements in technology have been made. The use of technology has become more and more prominent in our society; in fact, it is changing the way that teenagers act. Teenagers don’t spend as much time outdoors as they once did. Electronic devices have become one of the biggest means of entertainment today. According to freshman Abagail Bates, “There is so much to do on our phones that it keeps us occupied for such a long time. I spend about five to six hours on my phone each day, and I never get bored.”

A big question in regards to electronics is: how much is too much? There tends to be controversy among teens and their parents about whether kids spend too much time staring at screens. “I don’t think that teens spend too much time on electronics,” said freshman, Tyler Turnage. “In the past, teens had other means of entertainment. These are our means of entertainment. We should be able to use them.”

Technology, however, brings with it other problems. Although the use of electronics seems to keep many teenagers happy, spending time on electronics rather than outside has caused the obesity rate to increase by a significant amount. Since 1980, the teenage obesity rate has increased from six and a half percent to nineteen and a half percent. Today, one in every six teens struggles with obesity, and technology is one of the most prominent reasons.

Because teenagers are exposed to so much technology, cyberbullying has also become a big issue. In the past when people thought of bullying, they pictured a physical fight. Today many teens don’t get involved in physical fights, but bully more with words, especilly over the internet. “I think that most teens feel like cyberbullying has become an ‘easy’ option,” said freshman, Caitlin Petersen. “When you cyberbully someone, you don’t have to see their reaction in person; you can just hide behind a screen. You can also make yourself anonymous so the victim will never know that it was you.” Most teens have been cyberbullied at one point or another, even if they don’t necessarily realize that they are being cyberbullied. Studies show that 90% of teens often ignore cyberbullying, and only 1 in 10 victims of cyberbullying tell their parents.

When our parents were teens, it was rare to know someone who was diagnosed with anxiety or depression. For teens today meeting someone struggling with anxiety or depression is not so rare, and has become one of the biggest issues facing our society. About one out of every thirty boys, and one out of every ten girls have struggled with anxiety or depression at one point in their lives. “I think that a lot of the time, cyber bullying leads to depression,” said freshman, Anily Merino. “Because of cyberbullying and social media in general, people compare themselves to others and start to feel worse about themselves,” she added.

2For parents who are reading this, there is no debating that your teenage lives differ at least somewhat from the lives of teenagers today. Freshman Thomas Gallagher said, “I feel like our parents don’t understand our generation because technology developed so fast.  We are not used to living without technology, and they’re not used to living with technology. I think it’s almost like a divide.” Teens are growing up and adapting to new technologies, while parents haven’t been around technology as long; nor have they had as much time to adjust to this new world.

Although teen lives have changed throughout the years, one major element remains the same: teenagers can be mean to each other without really knowing their victims, or without thinking of how the victim might react. In the words of Anily Merino, “Overall, teens need to be more positive towards one another. Never put someone else down because you don’t know what they’ve been through. Just be accepting towards others and don’t judge someone before you know them.” This seems to work in both the technological and non-technological world.

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