I’ve been involved in youth ministry for the past 25 years, but driving a school bus for the past year has given me the opportunity to observe the teen culture outside of the church walls. I graduated high-school in 1983, and I’m amazed at how much teenagers have changed over the past quarter of a century. I’m perhaps even more amazed at how much they have remained the same.
Here are a few quick observations without much commentary. Feel free to add your own . . .
Boy/Girl relationships – You can see the awkwardness when the opposite sexes start to notice each other. Middle school boys chasing girls are like the classic dog-chasing-car scenario – they wouldn’t know what to do with one if they caught it. The maturity disparity is on full display:
- Middle school girls are young women.
Middle school boys are big children.
Outcast kids – Some kids seem to be born with a target on their backs
Cool kids – Some kids are born cool, some achieve coolness, and some have coolness thrust upon them (apologies to the Great Bard).
Insecurity – Over school, family, friends, overall social position . . .
Peer pressure – The world still revolves around what everybody else thinks about you.
All-access to anything – There are many more entry points into their lives – both good and bad.
Innocence Lost – Kids today are exposed to so much more at a much earlier age. As a teen, my biggest temptation was to sneak downstairs and watch an R-rated movie on HBO when my parents were asleep; today, that’s laughable.
Peer Influence – The internet allows MUCH MORE peer influence – Used to be parents had a certain amount of control over who their kids hung out with and were influenced by.
Language – Language seems to be in a transition. The profane is accepted, and words that were once innocuous are becoming offensive. Seated behind a keyboard, teens today are emboldened to express themselves in ways that only the worst of kids used to.