7 Ways Reality Has Changed for Today’s Teens

7 Ways Reality Has Changed for Today's Teens

The world is changing.

Teenage culture is always changing.

And what today’s teens are struggling with will always be changing.

It’s tough being a teen these days.

Here’s a list of a few new realities today’s teens are facing:

Cyber bullying is drastically on the rise. Somewhere between 4-25 percent of teens have been cyber bullied. Now if you work with teens, you know that more teens are being cyber bullied than 25 percent. What teen wants to publicly admit they are bullied? Not many. I would say that well over 60 percent have either been cyber bullied or are participating in the cyber bullying. Being cyber bullied means you are bullied on social networking sites, text message, email, picture/video chat and instant message.

Decrease in adult support. One of the biggest development needs for today’s teens is that they need more healthy, trusted and caring loving adults in their life. The ongoing adult support and guidance offered for today’s teens is on a big downward slope. Dr. Comer, Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University, commented that this decline in adult support is a huge crisis in our country.

Exposed to porn earlier. With 12 percent of all websites on the Internet being pornographic and 2.5 billion emails per day pornographic in nature—that is 8 percent of all emails—I think it is safe to say all kids have seen or looked at porn. Studies have found that the average kid first saw porn at age 11. It’s imperative youth ministries talk about porn to students and parents. Most Christian parents are in denial their son or daughter has seen porn.

Super stressed. I think it is safe to say today’s teens are the most stressed out generation in history. The American Psychological Association found that millennials (aged 18 to 35) are significantly more stressed than the “average” stress level, while older generations struggle less with stress. Chap Clark in Hurt 2.0 found “that mid-adolescents are about as busy as humanly possible. They average five to six hours of sleep a night. The busyness they embrace keeps them from having to reflect on their dreams, their relationships and their lives.” Articles in the Business Insider, Fusion.net and The New York Daily News all have talked about how and why this teenage generation is really stressed out.

The pursuit of fame. Studies show there has been a 30 percent increase (in the last 30 years) in teenage narcissism. More kids today think they are more awesome than everyone else. Many teens struggle with narcissism because they are constantly faced with social media, reality TV and technology that tell them they are stars and entitled to do and say whatever they want.

Children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1 value. Fame ranked 15th in 1997. —Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace

Self Diagnosed ADD. The emerging generation is bombarded by multiple streams of digital information, and the overflow is overwhelming students. Everything electronic is vying for bits and pieces of their time, and they’re clueless about how to time manage and prioritize tasks. The result is that students often self-diagnose themselves as ADHD as a cop-out, which gives teens permission not to focus. R.A. Barkley, an ADHD scholar, notes that “teens with ADHD generally begin high school with serious delays in self-regulation skills, weak self-discipline, and an inability to analyze and reflect on their own behavior and actions.”

Early Puberty. Teenage guys are starting puberty up to two years earlier than decades ago, new data show. Teenage girls reach puberty today at earlier ages than were ever recorded previously. Nutritional and other environmental influences may be responsible for this change. For example, the average age of the onset of menstrual periods in girls was 15 in 1900. By the 1990s, this average had dropped to 12 and a half years of age. In another words, our teens are biologically and psychological becoming adults faster.

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Jeremy Zach
Jeremy Zach easily gets dissatisfied with status quo. He reeks with passion and boredom is not in his vocabulary. He becomes wide awake when connecting with student pastors, thinking and writing about student ministry, experimenting with online technology, and working out. He is married to Mikaela and has two calico cats, Stella and Laguna. He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and is a XP3 Orange Specialist for Orange—a division of the REthink Group. Zach holds a Communication degree from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.