Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Risky Behavior in Adolescence: The Dangers Facing Generation Z

Risky Behavior in Adolescence: The Dangers Facing Generation Z

The mention of religious services is worth noting. While sexual purity and partying are certainly still worth talking about, church leaders working with teenagers might find the spiritual battle lines shifting from bad socialization to no socialization. Parents concerned about their kids’ bad moral choices might want to also consider the danger of overprotection and isolation.

Addressing the Sloth for Generation Z

So what’s the solution to this version of risky behavior in adolescence? One possibility is the reclamation of one of the “seven deadly sins”: sloth. Sloth could be described as “a sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

Anyone who’s found themselves glued to a smartphone knows what the above feels like. It’s a numbing, isolating, apathy-inducing state. Life becomes about a passive absorption of content rather than an active pursuit of a God-given identity.

In the absence of that, perhaps it’s not surprising that teenagers are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide. They’ve become addicted to the spiritual black hole of sloth. For pastors and parents then, it’s never been more important to direct students toward the fully-alive life Christ offers.

How to Reach Generation Z

Parents should encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities, join a church small group, and get a summer job. Student pastors should consider how they can help teens participate in community activities, discuss the dangers of sloth and isolation, and partner with parents to help students be salt and light in the world.

The evangelical church also should start developing a “theology” of smartphones. It shouldn’t be overly-reactive yet take seriously the spiritual complication they present to the next generation.

The bottom line is that community will save the day for teenagers. Not just any community, but life-giving, gospel-centric community. That is something the church and youth ministries can offer.