5 Reasons Why I Wouldn’t Want to be a Teenager Today

being a teenager today

This isn’t one of those nostalgic posts about “I remember when”, but my kids will probably accuse me of it. Obviously, there have always been challenges in raising teenagers but throw in social media, access to technology and our kids surpassing our knowledge base for certain things, and so our job as parents just got exponentially more difficult.

Life was simpler then. It’s cliche but true. And we heard it from our parents, and they heard it from their parents. The rate at which life comes at you is astounding today. You say that to your child, and it’s met with the predictable eye-roll. But it’s true. What’s even more incredible is the speed of advances not from generation to generation but instead from the gap between your eldest child to your youngest child. What will be the pace of growing up when our kids have kids? I remember getting my first cell phone when I was 21. It was a car-mounted unit that cost about a million dollars a month if you ever used it. Today, I see kids who are 8 or 9 walking around with Smartphones. It was only five or six years ago that you’d typically get your first cell phone when going into high school. Who destroyed that precedent? Fortunately, my ten year old hasn’t been giving me flack over not having a phone, but then again, does anyone have a home phone anymore?

House parties in the ’80s were completely different. People got on the “home phone” and started talking about what they were doing that night. You occasionally come across a party that got out of control because someone earlier in the week had caught word that someone’s parents were heading out of town.

Today, parents who tell their kids they can have a party aren’t sure what they are getting into. Everything goes viral within minutes, and that small get-together just had the police come in to bust things up. The security detail is hired, and there is no assurance that things won’t get out of control. I’ve shown up to pick up my daughter at a party, and there were as many kids outside the house as there were inside the house….and that’s when the parents were at home!

“Back in the day”, youth mental illness was never talked about, let alone recognized or acknowledged. We’d occasionally hear about the odd eating disorder or suicide, but it was usually in the context of a friend of a friend that we’d heard it through. Sadly today, teenage suicide or mental health issues run rampant through a community. Today, kids set up impromptu memorials and tributes online within hours, and this information goes viral within minutes. It’s a rarity that a teen hasn’t been affected directly by someone who has tragically attempted to or taken their own life. 

Today, likes on Instagram, Followers on SnapChat and popularity on Ask.fm can make or break your teenage years. Once this information is out there, you can’t take it back. That can be a painful and upsetting lesson that a kid may not be able to recover from. Phones with cameras make everyone the paparazzi. If people walked around with cameras at some of the parties I attended in high school and university, our reputations would have been potentially tarnished years ago. Fortunately, no one had phones, let alone cameras. Back in the day, someone may have had their eyebrow shaved off, and the only evidence was the embarrassment of showing up at school on Monday morning. Today, the entire event is videotaped by someone’s camera phone and uploaded to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and the kid becomes notorious within minutes. How is a kid supposed to shoulder that type of humiliation at sixteen?

Indiscretions and poor decision-making are all a part of growing up and learning from your mistakes. There is zero tolerance for someone getting out of line or having a momentary lapse of sound judgement. That seems harsh and unfair. God knows that I made my fair share of blunderous decisions and exercised several improprieties in my youth. I learned my mistakes from experience and self-awareness, not from public humiliation and ridicule.

The speed at which information flows today between kids is equally astounding. Last week, my son and I were in the car and had heard about the tragic events unfolding in Paris. He texted his friend who had left for Paris with her family the day before to see if she was alright. Within seconds, he replied that her family was within a kilometer of the bombings, but she was safe. So much for going out of town and being out of touch for a while.

There is something so ironic in this age of the selfie. Kids are so enamoured with their devices, yet I’ve also seen that it can be the cause of so much pain. On many occasions, I had seen my daughter’s mood transform from elation to upset all because of how many likes she had received on one of her Instagram posts. Madeline wasn’t unique in that respect either. I’ve talked to other parents who had experienced the same sort of volatility in their kids because of an unkind comment or an unfavourable post.

Our kids are growing up too quickly. I’m not opposed to progression. And actually, I embrace it. What scares me is how our kids may have to learn some of their most important lessons under social media’s watchful and scrutinizing eyes. A lesson that they may never get a chance to properly recover from.

Chris’ Bio

Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.

Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course. When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help. His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.

Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”

Originally published in October 2016

Being a teenager today