Saturday, April 4, 2009

Teenagers Then and Now: A Comparison and Contrast

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 . . .

The Likenesses

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.

The Differences

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.


Rebecca said...

Also to add a prickley subject....
sexual confusion is the norm and discussed openly.

Girls do not feel the need to hide their monthly cycle issues.

Teens are much more vicious in their gossip and do not care who they hurt.

Girls no longer desire a boy to chase them. They concider it to be creepy.

But on the brighter side. I read somewhere that this generation of teens, when they come to Christ, are much more bold and passionate. Partly because they have been alittle more lost and most have not grown up in the "church". The Good News is new news to their hurting lost souls. They truely feel the hunger for Him and know the feeling of hopelessness they had without Him. They question religion more and find the true relationship with Christ. I think the the key is to find how to tap into the lost youth and get the ball rolling. If we can figure out how to do that, there can be some really awesome true revival !!!!!

Kristin said...

Which innocuous words are becoming offensive? I'm worried I'm going to inadvertently commit a social faux pas.

This was an interesting post. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I think, in some ways.