The Modern Teen

June 10, 2008
By Faith Lyons, Wilmington, DE

Although new technology and knowledge has improved their lives dramatically, modern teens face many more challenges than those of past generations. Some of these challenges include incredibly high expectations of parents, extreme peer pressure, and the standards society sets for them.

First, modern teens are now expected to rise above and beyond the norm. Everyone wants his or her child to be the person who cures cancer or the person that helps initiate world peace. It’s not always acceptable to do what you love. Teens are rushed from activity to activity and rarely have time to take a breath. The concept of a team player is near non-existent because everyone wants his or her teen to excel and be on top. Teens of this generation are being pushed to the extremes both mentally and physically and are just expected to cope.

Parents aren’t the only ones pressuring teens, though. Another challenge teens face is pressure from other teens to commit illegal acts or to try illegal substances. While other generations also went through this, modern teens pressure each other in greater amounts and for more dangerous activities. By the time someone reaches thirteen, it’s no longer cool to play with Barbies or play tag at recess. Games of Truth or Dare, Spin-the-bottle, and Never, Never, Have I ever… are all the rage and if you don’t play, you’re considered weird or uncool. Teens are in such a rush to grow up that they don’t even stop and take the time to appreciate being kids.

The final challenge modern teens face is the standards that society sets for them. Teens are told to be nice, but told not to be pushovers. They have to be cool, but they can’t get in too much trouble for it. They can’t be fat, but they also can’t be too thin. They have to get good grades, but it’s not ok to be a nerd. Teens are constantly labeled by how they act or whom they're friends with. They’re not allowed to just be themselves. Teens are often forced to befriend others who share their superficial traits without allowing for friendship that might develop on a deeper level. With these labels, the modern teen’s life is restricted to a small group of people, and it’s almost impossible to find a healthy way to break free.

It’s not uncommon to hear an adult strongly disagree with these arguments. They see these teens with such bright futures and try to give them every opportunity they can. While it’s great to have so many options, the pressure that comes along with these choices can be unbearable at times. Many modern teens feel that in order to succeed they must be the best at everything they try and that second best is just the first loser. While some of these challenges have helped form some of our world’s brightest minds, people need to understand that not every teen will easily fit into this mold. While a small group of teens thrive under constant pressure, for other teens this pressure is just too much. Despite how much this generation has grown technologically and in their knowledge of the world around them, they have used these improvements to make the lives of their most impressionable even more difficult than they are to begin with.

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