What’s it like to be a teen in 2016?
Being a teen is not only a troubling time for most of us, for a lot of us it is the time when we slowly realize that we are not children anymore and become more understanding of the world around us. We become aware of the happenings around the world and absorb information that eventually get processed in our minds and finally hear the “grown-ups” make the decisions of the world today, “for a better future” they say, but is it?
Today we are more connected than 20 years but definitely more isolated and lonely than ever before. With the initiation of new technology, we are able to reach each other from around the globe, anywhere and at any time. Young people are particularly affected by this and to them, the technology world is what they live and breathe for. Even today, as I am writing I am connecting to thousands of people who are interested in what I say no matter my age or ethnicity. Not even seventeen I already have several social networking accounts; Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, WordPress just to name a few. Therefore, parents and adults alike have named us as the “screen addicts”, and I partially agree with them. But really the blame really isn’t really on us because in actuality we do not know anything better than the screens in front of us.
Even though I am part of this generation, I think there is always the exception that does things differently and in some ways, I feel like I am part of this group. Not every teenager is interested in “Keeping up with the Kardashians” or posting every part of their life on “Snapchat.” For us, technology is a way to keep up with the demands of society and what it offers us. Nevertheless, we constantly exposed to the world of the media. We are constantly bombarded by updates of the lives of other people. Young people today are looking towards celebrities and Youtube star as their role models. They feel they need to live their life like them in order to feel and look pretty and successful. Therefore, children not just teenagers as young as twelve are using makeup and wear short, skimpy and provocative skirts to not just feel pretty but to fit in too. It’s hard to live when people judge you by the standards of what you wear or what you like. As opposed to 20 years ago social media was never a thing as it is today.
Also teenagers today are more body-conscious than ever before.In every social networking App there is bound to be some image of the perfect body society perceives to be “goals.” Teenagers today are exposed to this more than ever and this cloud their judgement of their own natural beauty. This, in fact, makes teens of today very unhappy and in some serious cases develop into something more serious such as anorexia, Bulimia Nervosa and even orthorexia. This was not a foreign concept to people 20 years ago but many girls and boys today have so much to live up to especially because they are still trying to find themselves whilst being bombarded not only their parents but by society too. Even today as a sixteen-year-old, my peers often judge me by what I wear to school but thanks to the uniform there is less scrutiny. Even celebrities nowadays are a big influence that causes young people to dress and look a certain way.
So you can see, living in 2016 as a teenager is not an idealistic life. Despite being at the peak of the technological era, I would say it has its own pros and cons. Yes, it has made of particularly aware of the ongoings of the world and made us connected in more ways than ever before. But also it provides insatisfaction among users who are constantly plagued with the feeling of unhappiness in their life when they compare themselves to other people. Look around you and you will see not just teenagers looking into small screens but adults too who are slowly teaching their kids that screens are the way of life. This way of life is also a lonely one;people are too preoccupied with their own digital lives that they fail to live in the moment with close friends and families. I often see a couple sitting in a café but the odd thing about this situation was, neither were talking to each other much but on their phones tapping away as if none of them knew each other.
In my opinion, I don’t think many teens in 2016 or the 21st century get to experience “real” life, where nature is or the world outside. They are so busy tapping away they don’t appreciate what they have and think about other people. There are so many people in the world who don’t have this technology or social media yet they still live happy lives that even first world people cannot relate to. They are so focused on the screen in front of them they don’t realize the things they are missing in their lives. Even kids today no longer play in the mud or the nearby lake now they have toys in the form of iPads to keep them company. Most teenagers’ social life consist of going out to the next party or to the next disco etc. For the majority, this may be the truth, but I know the exception that sees through all this and into the bigger picture. They understand parties and make-up will not get you far in life and achieve your dreams or anywhere for that matter.
I know I have a biased account of how I perceive teenagers and I’m certainly one myself, but this is how I see young people in my own community and many do not give a damn about the world outside of their home. But I would also like to point out other amazing things 21st-century teenagers have opinions about. Despite me giving you a very materialistic and ignorant view of how teenagers perceive the world, there are also many- and by that I mean a lot, that shares similar opinions about the world. They are very concerned about climate change and want the world to be a better place for not just us but for everyone around the world where droughts and famine are a constant threat to their home. They are also very open to new opinions, take the LGBT community, for example, young people are often more sensible than you think even though they don’t seem like it! As a teen myself it is nice to see that people are doing many good things in the world for others, and even though there are many controversial debates over things such as abortion and euthanasia, I think it’s good that it’s controversial because people’s opinion matter and so does the subject, so it’s nice to see people giving their opinions.
Finally, I would not trade my teen years for anything. Living in 2016 as a teen is a good experience, you’ll feel awkward and find yourself seeking friends to feel accepted but today, is an amazing place where ideas are constantly being developed and things are constantly explored. There’s room for everybody and even if there isn’t someone will make one.