“I haven’t heard of anyone who goes out and...drinks with their friends"
September 19, 2017 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Not drinking or driving, teens increasingly put off traditional markers of adulthood. "...teenagers are increasingly delaying activities that had long been seen as rites of passage into adulthood. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Child Development, found that the percentage of adolescents in the United States who have a driver’s license, who have tried alcohol, who date and who work for pay has plummeted since 1976, with the most precipitous decreases in the past decade."
posted by MythMaker (187 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
And the portion that had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016.
Doesn't that coincide with the drinking age being raised and taken more seriously, though?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:42 PM on September 19 [18 favorites]


In a city where it is easy to bike, take buses or ride-share, he doesn’t see much need to drive. And as for dating: “It seems sort of ridiculous to be seriously dating someone in high school. I mean, what’s the plan there? Continuing to date through college and then eventually get married? That seems sort of unrealistic.”

Uh, someone should tell this kid he doesn't have to marry the first person he dates
posted by Existential Dread at 4:44 PM on September 19 [66 favorites]


From the paper (may or may not be accessible to everyone):
By the early 2010s, 12th graders went out less often than 8th graders did in the early 1990s (see Figure 2).
This kind of blows my mind.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:48 PM on September 19 [25 favorites]


>“On the one hand, I know she’s safe, she’s not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age appropriate,” she said. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach.

Well, if it makes anybody feel any better, my kid's friends had way more pregnancy scares and STD transmissions than the people I knew in high school. And--funny story--nobody involved in any of the crises in question thought, 'Thank goodness we're learning the life lessons that these behaviors teach.'

If you can't find anything to wring your hands about besides a decline in teenage drinking as an index of 'valuable life-lesson-learning', you're very fortunate.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:53 PM on September 19 [40 favorites]


If I were picking a baseline for "traditional", I'm not sure I'd pick the mid-1970s.

Interesting article, though.
posted by clawsoon at 4:54 PM on September 19 [30 favorites]


Well, post-Columbine hysteria, War on Drugs/Crime curfews, clamping down on the availability of driver's licenses, etc. etc. I mean those were things just starting to go into effect as I aged out of being a teen and it's worse today.

For New Orleans, here's ours from NOPD:

During summer curfew hours, kids aged 16 and younger cannot be in public without adult supervision between the following hours:

Sunday - Thursday, 9 p.m. - 6 a.m.
Friday - Saturday, 11 p.m. - 6 a.m.

In the Eighth District (French Quarter area), NOPD is enforcing a stricter curfew:

Seven days a week, 8 p.m. - 6 a.m.

Likewise, when I was A Youth, we got a learner's permit with some limited restrictions like you had to drive with a licensed driver after dark, but I had that and then had a week of driver's ed, passed my road test, and was licensed. Now the kids here have a graduated system with all kinds of restrictions.

So how would they go out and drink (or drive)?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:55 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


I'm 29. Had my first job at 16, first date at 17 but first boyfriend and sex at 19, alcohol at 19, weed at 21, license at 22. (However I attributed my lack of dating in high school to being a big loser rather than a considered choice.)

I wonder if this might be the next step of the "kids these days don't get to ride bikes to the park unsupervised" thing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:57 PM on September 19 [12 favorites]


I think the mystery of changing attitudes about dating is explained by the fact that there are now convenient mainstream ways to have a sexual relationship that don't involve dating. There might also be a shift in what "dating" implies, where in previous generations it would be used as a euphemism and / or catch all for relationships that don't involve going out together on "dates", and recent generations don't feel a need to hold onto that description.
posted by idiopath at 4:58 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


Millenials are killing underage drinking. Huge, if true.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:59 PM on September 19 [37 favorites]


or perhaps the concept of dating is altogether dated
posted by idiopath at 5:01 PM on September 19 [15 favorites]


From the paper (may or may not be accessible to everyone):

By the early 2010s, 12th graders went out less often than 8th graders did in the early 1990s (see Figure 2).

This kind of blows my mind.


Honestly, as someone who was a 12th grader in 2008, this makes perfect sense to me. Between the stranger danger panic of the 90s, the increasing control and restriction of teenagers moving through public spaces for "safety" reasons, and the ease with which social media allows socialization and communication, it's just more feasible for youth to stay home and use Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Skype to interact, instead of trying to all meet up at the mall (squeezed in the schedule between the eight after-school clubs mom and dad insist they participate in for college application purposes) and get harassed by an overzealous mall cop who thinks teenagers standing in groups and chatting is a felony.

I also went to private school, with kids pulled from all over the county, so my best friend in high school lived 40 minutes away. It would have been impractical for us to meet up after school. I imagine suburban sprawl and the increasing number of private/charter schools will only exacerbate the issue.
posted by ProtectoroftheSmall at 5:02 PM on September 19 [44 favorites]


My half-baked theory is that this is another small step in the 6 million year process of humans neotenizing ourselves. First we gave up full-sized adult canine teeth; now we're giving up teenage dating.
posted by clawsoon at 5:06 PM on September 19 [22 favorites]


real talk: driving is hella overrated
posted by entropicamericana at 5:06 PM on September 19 [64 favorites]


instead of trying to all meet up at the mall (squeezed in the schedule between the eight after-school clubs mom and dad insist they participate in for college application purposes) and get harassed by an overzealous mall cop who thinks teenagers standing in groups and chatting is a felony.

What mall? They're a dying breed these days.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:07 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? (very related article from the Atlantic that attributes this rise in the late onset in adolescence (citing evidence that children are going outside the house, leaving their parents company, driving, etc less...markers of not just adolescence, but actual childhood) to the ca.2012 period where smartphone adoption hit 50%. And the graphs are very similar to these)
posted by sexyrobot at 5:11 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


Millenials are killing underage drinking.

Kids in high school now are probably the generation that comes after Millennials.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:22 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


KIDS THESE DAYS
posted by Grandysaur at 5:22 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


I have a teenager, and host many teenagers in my kitchen, it seems. Of the multitudes I feed, only a couple are excited about drivers ed next year, and none of them have that sort of boyfriend girlfriend dynamic that was such a thing in movies of high school. I went to a convent school, so... not a lot of dating.

By the same token, I see a lot more acceptance of gender fluidity, and non binary gender friendships. If throwing up southern comfort is the thing of teenage years they're missing, that's probably OK. All in all gang, the kids are alright.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:23 PM on September 19 [78 favorites]


I did a lot of seriously stupid shit when I was a teenager in the late '80s and early '90s, and I don't know that I think it's a good idea to romanticize it. I probably benefited from having a job, but I don't know that I'm a better person for having spent a lot of time at parties where everyone but me was wasted.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:28 PM on September 19 [15 favorites]


None of my kids (16, 18, 20) drive yet, but they live downtown in big cities (Toronto, Montreal) where it's completely unnecessary and sort of pointless. By contrast I spent the first years of adolescence in the suburbs and could not wait to get my license when I turned 16.
They have a pretty healthy attitude about alcohol, I think. Drinking age is 18 in Montreal and it's not really a big deal. My son is 16 and usually ends up being the friend taking care of the wasted person at parties, and tells us all about it. They've all tried alcohol at home and on trips and stuff, I never thought it was smart to make it this big mysterious thing. Just be responsible and don't ever lie to us was always the deal.
posted by chococat at 5:28 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


Why didn't they chart farther back? 1976 seems an odd place to start, let alone use as the litmus for normal adolescence. In between there and here we've had (in no particular order) the War on Drugs, AIDS, stranger danger, satanic panic, 9/11, the violent crime spike of the 90s, warrior cops, the gang scare, and the seeming societal acceptance of punishing teenagers for existing in public spaces. Frankly, I'm surprised being a teenager is even legal anymore.

Everybody is so damn afraid all the time and if you're a parent and not constantly terrified of everyone and everything some scold will send child services to your house. We've built a prison for the kids and then wonder why they're not running around outside the walls.
posted by Lighthammer at 5:33 PM on September 19 [40 favorites]


As the parent of two teens, currently 16 and 13: yep, this is consistent with our current experience. Our 16 year old high school junior had his first paying job this summer, and we all feel it went quite well; huzzah, and one rite of passage accomplished!

Apart from that, though, he ticks most of the other slow-to-try boxes in this article: not dating; slow to get his driver's license; has yet to try alcohol (and we've made some low-key offers to him to try it in several very safe situations), and he certainly hasn't tried anything stronger; etc. He's a popular, outgoing, kid - good looking, athletic, and well-adjusted. SO well-adjusted, in fact, that his teenage years are nothing like my own...and I was a "good" kid who didn't really party until my mid 20's.

I am happy he hasn't gotten into any trouble, but I worry he is playing it too safe. A little well-placed rebellion and rules-circumvention as a teen is helpful as an adult. At least, that's been my experience, so I worry a bit that he's missing out on some age-appropriate mischief.
posted by mosk at 5:34 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


When I was in high school, I had plenty of friends who were eager to show off their driving skills and burn their gas hauling me around. In college, I had no place to put a car. So I got my license at 23.

Nowadays, with the price of gas where it is, I suspect it'd be a bit harder to find a ride buddy.
posted by delfin at 5:35 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


According to an evolutionary-psychology theory that a person’s “life strategy” slows down or speeds up depending on the person’s surroundings, exposure to a “harsh and unpredictable” environment leads to faster development, while a more resource-rich and secure environment has the opposite effect, the study said.
If I'm remembering E. A. Wrigley's "Population and History" correctly, the age of marriage and first childbirth went up (and the number of children went down) most often in English history during the times of greatest inequality and resource constraint. In the Anglo world - and in many other cultures, too, I suspect - the mechanism that translates resource constraints into delayed adulthood and childbearing is [drumroll, please] housing. There's strong pressure not to start a family until you can afford a house. And guess how difficult it is for millennials without trust funds to afford a house right now?
posted by clawsoon at 5:41 PM on September 19 [49 favorites]


it's not the drinking that bothers me, it's the mainlined heroin and the occasional fentanyl dose. and dying.
posted by j_curiouser at 5:42 PM on September 19 [10 favorites]


the late onset in adolescence (citing evidence that children are going outside the house

Basically, Asimov's "It's a beautiful day for a walk."

real talk: driving is hella overrated

real talk: i have always preferred drinking to driving.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:48 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


So in addition to a generation of very protective parents and a society that shames parents who allow kids to take any risks at all, and along with the tech stuff, I'm gonna throw out one more possibility here:

In a lot of places, it's harder for a teen to get a job.
Many of those who do work are busting their asses to support their families.
In both cases, there is much less disposable income for going out, and less money for a car.

These things all feed into each other.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:48 PM on September 19 [37 favorites]


My 16-year-old (who wasn't even born yet when I joined MetaFilter!) is practicing for her driver's license test in November, just got her first after-school job, and has tried alcohol (with adult supervision). She doesn't date, or go out much with friends, though we've encouraged her to go into Boston with friends on her own (via commuter rail) a couple of times now. We're starting to look at colleges for her to apply to that aren't close to home (an easy cop-out for kids who grow up in the Boston area, even if they are good schools). As with the Helicopter Parent phenomenon, I tend to blame the behavior of over-protective parents rather than some shift in the way children see adolescence.
posted by briank at 5:49 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


How many working-class people can afford to buy cars for their teenagers now that aren't completely on their last legs? It seems like when I was a teenager, a lot of my lower-income peers, their parents were able to manage that much, although in a few cases the kids paid them back once they were working or whatever. Now--I was just talking a few days ago with my friend about how she wants to give her son, now 15, her car when she gets a new one. Except she's now just barely nursing that car along well enough to keep it working for her own purposes and has no idea when she can afford a new one. If she can't keep herself in a reliable vehicle, she can't keep a kid in one. It's not that they aren't cool cars or whatever--the cars that're available cheap now seem to regularly be in a position where it's like, "runs reliably if you don't mind that it's about three minutes from needing a new catalytic converter and also the power steering doesn't work".
posted by Sequence at 5:54 PM on September 19 [16 favorites]


it's not the drinking that bothers me, it's the mainlined heroin and the occasional fentanyl dose. and dying.
I don't think that kids are the people driving the opioid epidemic. It's more likely to be their parents, honestly.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:00 PM on September 19 [13 favorites]


Pokemon Go yells at you if you play while driving.

There's your game-changer.
posted by delfin at 6:06 PM on September 19 [12 favorites]


Truth told, drinking, driving, etc, are kind of fucked up markers of adulthood. My brother, younger than me by 15 years, seemed to think all those stupid 80s teen comedies were the template for how to behave as a teen/adult. He's kind of an idiot, really. Ironic that he's the most successful sibling of all of us!

I'm just saying, there have been a lot of articles and studies and books that seem to amount to "kids these days". I'm not really seeing much of a problem, though. If your kids are not living up to your standards, you can do something about it. If my kids are not living up to your standards, you can fuck off.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:12 PM on September 19 [15 favorites]


Word of caution: the study this article is based on is by pretty much the person who decided millennials are all narcissists.
posted by capricorn at 6:16 PM on September 19 [41 favorites]


Oh. Well, shit then.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:18 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


> Uh, someone should tell this kid he doesn't have to marry the first person he dates

I mean, yes, but I think it's pretty logical to say "Why should I spend time dating in High School when I know neither my classmates nor I are ready for a serious relationship?" There are other ways to interact socially with people besides dating.
posted by Aleyn at 6:20 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]


I desperately try to avoid "kids today" syndrome, and yeah, drinking less is not a bad thing, but I do worry about the smartphone addiction.

Face-to-face human interaction is elemental. Less of that is a bad thing.

I went for a walk on campus the other day (Berkeley) and roughly 30-40% of the students were walking around alone while holding their smartphones out in front of them. It was unnerving. I seriously wondered how common it is for students to wander into Strawberry Creek.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:25 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


I think it's pretty logical to say "Why should I spend time dating in High School when I know neither my classmates nor I are ready for a serious relationship?"


Well for me, dating was preparation for the serious relationship. I've dated since I was in elementary school. I've been happily married for 20 years now. Worked for me.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:29 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


If I'm remembering E. A. Wrigley's "Population and History" correctly, the age of marriage and first childbirth went up (and the number of children went down) most often in English history during the times of greatest inequality and resource constraint. In the Anglo world - and in many other cultures, too, I suspect - the mechanism that translates resource constraints into delayed adulthood and childbearing is [drumroll, please] housing. There's strong pressure not to start a family until you can afford a house. And guess how difficult it is for millennials without trust funds to afford a house right now?

You remember exactly correctly. Age of marriages climbed in the 17th century, as the economy for labouring people was stagnant -- and the birth rate flatlined and so did the population.

When the industrial revolution created more jobs c1750, the age of marriage dropped, the birth rate thus rose, and the population of England and Wales started growing -- and hasn't stopped since.

But what do demographers know? I mean, they just study actual population trends. We should just listen to that evolutionary psychologist with no data and an inane theory, not the demographers or the director of research on actual families.

/argh.
posted by jb at 6:33 PM on September 19 [72 favorites]


Also, Tony Wrigley is awesome. I'm so happy to see him cited (by someone who isn't me). His Continuity, Chance and Change is the best book on the Industrial Revolution ever.
posted by jb at 6:36 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


He's kind of an idiot, really. Ironic that he's the most successful sibling of all of us!

He understands people.
posted by thelonius at 6:40 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Kids can't have a drivers license in California, until they are 18 years old. Wow. The uber lobby is strong here.
posted by Oyéah at 6:45 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


Getting a license when I turned 16 (I made my mom take me after school on my birthday) was such a big deal to me that I have been surprised how little interest my 16-year-old, his friends, and other teenagers have in it. Part of it for my 16yo is, indeed, the rigor of the training. He doesn't want to spend 24 hours getting classroom instruction, plus driving instruction and supervised-by-a-trainer driving in order to spend at least another three months only allowed to drive with one of his parents in the car, and then more classroom instruction and a restricted license for a lengthy period, etc etc.

I suppose that's one way to cut down on dangerous driving among teens: make the hurdle to get a license high enough that some percentage of them will simply choose not to do it.

I think my peers and I were desperate because we lived in a rural area where even to get to a friend's house was a five-mile drive, and then it was another 5 miles to your other friend's house, and to go to a movie meant driving to the nearest city.

Well for me, dating was preparation for the serious relationship. I've dated since I was in elementary school. I've been happily married for 20 years now. Worked for me.

This was true for me as well--going on 24 years together. On the other hand, one of my best friends never dated in high school at all. Our first week of college, we met a boy in the cafeteria who would become her first boyfriend. They've been happily together for 34 years now, and have just sent their second of two kids off to college. Neither of them has ever so much as kissed anyone else. Human diversity! I love it.
posted by Orlop at 6:46 PM on September 19 [8 favorites]


I can certainly understand wanting your kids to take some risks while you, the parents, are there to provide a safety net - but is drinking till you puke or having sex when you're too emotionally immature to really handle it the kind of risk you want a kid to take? Applying for a dream internship, actually talking to the cute girl or boy they have a crush on, spending a summer as an exchange student abroad - those seem to be more in line with "risks that are good for kids to take."

Dating in high school - getting a head start here made sense when people married young, and there was no Tinder or Grindr or Match.com or Jdate or etc. to help one find partners. If most people pair off in high school or college and marry by age 25, and it's hard to locate and meet potential partners once school is out - then it makes sense to have to date in high school. Now with people marrying closer to age 30, and both men and women expect to invest in a career and personal growth in their 20's rather than marriage and babies Right Away, it makes sense to delay dating and sex. Maybe it's even better when people are a little more mature (18 vs. 15), who knows?
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:49 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


it's just more feasible for youth to stay home and use Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Skype to interact,

One time, a friend of my two teens was over visiting, and he went home so they could play a videogame together online. I thought, "That's sure different from when I was growing up."

My teens are kind of nerdy and introverted, so I haven't really known how much of them not driving, not going out on Friday nights to hang out at the pizza place, not going to the mall or its equivalent, etc, has been just them, versus part of a generational trend.
posted by Orlop at 6:49 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


Drinking, sex and other risky pursuits were things kids did because they had nothing better to do.

Kids today have more options. They can do what they want to instead of just doing the few things that are available to them. It's a good thing.
posted by mpbx at 7:00 PM on September 19 [35 favorites]


real talk: driving is hella overrated

If you don't live in a major city, not driving for a teen means you can only do things if your parents drive you there and back. I was fortunate enough to get a car and license at 16 and it opened up so many things for me and my friends (including relatively wholesome stuff like "going to the big bookstore in the city").
posted by thefoxgod at 7:00 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


I would think that avoiding drinking and driving is a good thing, actually.
posted by heatherlogan at 7:02 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Face-to-face human interaction is elemental. Less of that is a bad thing.

I agree but I can't help but think of the time I got (virtually) yelled at here on the filter for suggesting that humans are social creatures.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:03 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


As soon as I saw the name Jean Twenge, my eyeballs primed themselves for rolling. Twenge is a sensationalist hack.

According to an evolutionary-psychology theory that a person’s “life strategy” slows down or speeds up depending on the person’s surroundings, exposure to a “harsh and unpredictable” environment leads to faster development, while a more resource-rich and secure environment has the opposite effect, the study said.

Ignoring for now the shaky foundations of evolutionary psychology in general, this argument ignores the fact that the teenagers of the 60s and especially the 70s came of age in one of the most prosperous and materially/economically comfortable societies the world has ever known. Today's teenagers, by and large, are getting ready to enter a middle class that's been steadily sucked to a withered husk ever since Ronald Reagan aw-shucksed his way into the Oval Office.

'Traditional' markers of adulthood, my ass.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 7:03 PM on September 19 [53 favorites]


Doesn't that coincide with the drinking age being raised and taken more seriously, though?

I grew up near a college that had band parties with kegs often; it was easier for me to get beer there in high school than it was a couple of years later, when I was a student there. It went from "hey, how old are you?" 19. "When were you born?" Uh, 19 years ago!, and the guy practicality high-fived me and gave me a wristband to, there were campus police at the carding tables, and the drinking age was 21, and they knew, uh, most undergrads aren't 21.
posted by thelonius at 7:07 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


I do wonder what teens would do at the mall or equivalent today. When I was a suburban teen in the late '90s/early 2000s, The Mall was a place to hang out but also to buy and even learn about cultural artifacts, especially for guys who were less interested in clothing shopping as a social activity.

And those overpriced record stores and crappy bookstores were kind of all we had. Hell, I first heard Tom Waits on a random $5 Anti record sampler from Hot Topic. I remember going on to look him up in a paper rock-and-roll encyclopedia my mom had bought me for Christmas and getting Mule Variations at Sam Goody. The first time I tasted lamb was from a gyro place in the food court.

Now not only is music and literature better and cheaper online than what we had back then--my Spotify subscription costs about half of what a mall CD cost around 2000, and I downloaded more Tom Waits records on Napster before I got out of high school--those record and book stores don't even exist. And it's my impression that millennial parent/Gen X food tastes are generally less parochial than our own parents' generations.
posted by smelendez at 7:09 PM on September 19 [12 favorites]


Judging by the bars and "beer gardens" packed with 20 somethings every night of the goddamn week here in DC, they make up for the drinking part fast enough.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:10 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


Doesn't that coincide with the drinking age being raised and taken more seriously, though?

It's been 21 here in Pennsylvania since 1933 and that didn't seem to stop teenagers before.
posted by octothorpe at 7:11 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


My two millennial kids (currently 23 and 21) both skipped the high school drinking and drugs stuff. I'd be assuming it was fine parenting on the part of me and Mrs. COD. Maybe it wasn't us.
posted by COD at 7:13 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


I mean, yes, but I think it's pretty logical to say "Why should I spend time dating in High School when I know neither my classmates nor I are ready for a serious relationship?" There are other ways to interact socially with people besides dating.

So I have no credibility in this, since I was a social loser in high school who did basically no dating, but I've always taken the term "dating" to mean more of a euphemism for things sexual, rather than a rigorous exercise in Life Partnership. But these days maybe that is indicated by "hooking up," leaving "dating" for the more committed.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:17 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


'Traditional' markers of adulthood, my ass.
An "American tradition" is anything that happened to a Boomer twice.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:19 PM on September 19 [85 favorites]


> Kids can't have a drivers license in California, until they are 18 years old. Wow. The uber lobby is strong here.

What? You can get a permit when you are 15 1/2, like a lot of other states.
posted by rtha at 7:21 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


Where I live, you can get your permit when you're 14. You can't drive alone until you're 14 and a half, though.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:24 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I'm constantly shocked at how few teenagers have jobs these days (and I say that not just from observing friends and family but from sitting on the school board). Most of my peers had jobs in high school, working the register at local retail stores after school, life guarding in the summer, etc. And this was in the 90s, college admissions were competitive, but it was a little weird to apply to college and not to have ever worked a shitty teenage job, it was part of what showed you were serious and responsible and followed through on commitments.

It seems like these days, kids from wealthy areas need such a gigantic resume for college admissions that there isn't TIME for a job between homework and extracurriculars, and the only jobs that help you with college admissions are fancy-ass unpaid internships or working for NGOs or things like that. Kids from poor areas, the jobs aren't there even if they want them, and adults are taking up all the traditional teenaged jobs. And housing is so economically segregated now that it's not super-possible for a poor kid to go to a rich area for an after-school job since it'd be an hour commute (and the adults from his community are doing that anyway).

Plus in the 90s you could save up enough for a decent used car with a couple summers' work, or make a meaningful (not huge, but meaningful) contribute towards state U tuition. These days there's hardly a point, you can't possibly save up enough for a car with a high school job and god knows it won't make any kind of dent in college costs. I've had kids flat-out tell me, "If I work 15 hours a week during the semester I can earn about $1500 after taxes, but it's $450 a credit hour at the state U, and if I can get 4s or 5s on my AP bio and AP lit, that's 7 credit hours, or $3100 saved, so I'm better off studying than working, especially since I don't have to pay my parents room and board."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:25 PM on September 19 [61 favorites]


I'm constantly shocked at how few teenagers have jobs these days

Most of the people working at my local Domino's are my age, and most of the fast work workers seem to be immigrant adults or senior citizens. The kids don't stand a chance. I don't think my kids believed us when we talked about going to the mall to look for a job, and having one before you made it to the food court. Today they have to apply online, local managers aren't allowed to hire anybody unless they were referred via corporate HR.
posted by COD at 7:31 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


I wish kids would drink less but living near an urban college campus I have to honestly say that the amount of red cup party drinking that I see is on the increase.
posted by JJ86 at 7:33 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


I work with college students, and it's tough for them to find off-campus jobs that will accommodate their course schedules or even commit to a regular weekly schedule. It's all on-demand and last-minute, and their bosses often ask them to come in when they should be in class. I routinely have to have the "you can't miss class to work, no matter how short-staffed your boss says he is" conversation with them. I think it would be really tough for teenagers to find after-school jobs these days, because of really ugly trends in retail and food-service scheduling.

A lot of my students have had seasonal jobs like being lifeguards or camp counselors, and a fair number of them have had summer nanny gigs.
I've had kids flat-out tell me, "If I work 15 hours a week during the semester I can earn about $1500 after taxes, but it's $450 a credit hour at the state U, and if I can get 4s or 5s on my AP bio and AP lit, that's 7 credit hours, or $3100 saved, so I'm better off studying than working, especially since I don't have to pay my parents room and board."
There's a similar calculus about taking community college classes over the summer, both in high school and in college, although most of my students also work when they do that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:50 PM on September 19 [29 favorites]


"Most of the people working at my local Domino's are my age, and most of the fast work workers seem to be immigrant adults or senior citizens. The kids don't stand a chance."

No, totally. I recently moved back to my hometown and the people working the exact jobs my friends and I worked at local shops and groceries and so on are mostly adults and immigrants who reverse-commute on the train (from the city to the suburbs) and walk to work in the little suburban downtowns, and I am glad the work is there and that people who need it are getting it, but boy is it a sign of how broken our economy is, and I shudder to think what a big bite the monthly train ticket takes out of minimum wage retail work. It's like a microcosm of all the brokenness of our economy, with the housing segregation and the low wages and the gains going to the rich and more and more jobs being low-wage service sector and young people struggling to enter the job market at all and immigrants being exploited and UGH.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:52 PM on September 19 [28 favorites]


Our 19-year-old strongly resisted my attempts to convince her to get a driver's license. Maybe because the school system paid for transit passes for most of the kids in her school, so she grew used to public transit. And now she goes to a college in a semi-rural area with an amazing bus system (Pioneer Valley in Western Mass. for the win).
posted by adamg at 7:56 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


"On the one hand, I know she's safe, she's not out getting pregnant or smoking pot or drinking or doing all kinds of risky stuff that I can imagine would be age appropriate,"she said. But Haskew wonders whether her daughter is missing out on life lessons those behaviors can teach. "Is that stuff necessary for human development, do you have to be risk-taking as a teenager in order to succeed as an adult?"

So these articles and parents, after years if not decades of after school specials and anti-drug classroom crusades and rubber playgrounds and helicopter parenting and initiatives to make everything about childhood as safe and as convenient as possible, are now suddenly regretting their kids not experiencing teen pregnancies or youth drug abuse? After making the world a safer place- and a more scary place through relentless hysteria and moral panics- they now think their kids are too soft and coddled? Sponsor scouting organizations or summer camps or apprenticeship programs or study abroad if you think your kids aren't experiencing the real world enough. Don't romanticize the same risky behaviors that you lobbied to abolish in the first place.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:56 PM on September 19 [28 favorites]


I can't help but think of the time I got (virtually) yelled at here on the filter for suggesting that humans are social creatures.


I think it's one thing to be an adult who makes a conscious decision to be unsociable, or who is happy with knowingly being an introvert.

But I worry about kids and young adults who either (1) aren't giving much thought to how they're missing out on social interaction; or (2) simply don't want to develop the social skills they are going to need later, without understanding how important that is.

As something of an outcast, I fell into the latter category as a teenager, and I regret that. But I was at least prodded to find a crowd I could be comfortable with (other outcasts), and I was forced to achieve a high degree of independence that has served me well as an adult.

I'd hate to imagine what would have happened if I'd had a smartphone or a computer to retreat into.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:08 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


And yeah, despite being An Old I decided to go back to college full-time and wanted to pick up a part-time gig like I used to have way back when to help pay for it and various sundries. But it's honestly not worth it. 8 bucks an hour working 20-30 hours a week might cover part of my tuition. And that's it. State school, resident tuition. And that's for a crappy entry-level job with 0 guaranteed hours and mandatory "take any shift or we don't call you back" hours. So it's student loans, which pay for my tuition and books, and hope I manage to pay them off someday.

Probably not what they mean by "makes me feel young again".
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:08 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


It seems sort of ridiculous to be seriously dating someone in high school. I mean, what’s the plan there?

Gaining some fucking experience and learning how to deal with heartbreak when you (likely) have a support network ready to roll, rather than when you first venture out on your own.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:13 PM on September 19 [14 favorites]


I'd hate to imagine what would have happened if I'd had a smartphone or a computer to retreat into.

It's really not the catastrophe you're thinking it is. People on the internet? Still actually people. Friends you socialize with through a screen? Still your friends. If you literally never leave your house that might be different, but it's not like we're talking about people who don't go to school and stuff. So, yeah, I had problems, but my problems were related to diagnosed mental health crud that runs in my family back generations, and I've done better than anybody in my family in a similar position did previously because I "retreated into" the computer and had friends who cared about me and shared my interests, as basically the first generation who had the option to do this back in the 90s. The people who're retreating into phones just doing mindless or non-social stuff might have trouble, but those same people already had TV and books as options in the 70s.
posted by Sequence at 8:24 PM on September 19 [23 favorites]


I don't know about the rest of you, but my keen early-90's interest in sex as a teen was very much not rooted in boredom.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:53 PM on September 19 [15 favorites]


I find the interpretations offered for the data to be somewhat suspect. The first theory posits that kids feel less of a need to grow up quickly if they are more secure and have more resources, which they supposedly do now (but then wouldn't less affluent kids not fit this pattern?), and the second theory is essentially the opposite: that kids today are more worried about their futures, because fewer good jobs are available for the college educated, and therefore are devoting themselves to more serious pursuits, like studying.

What's missing is the issue of rebellion. Kids in the 70s rebelled against the constraints placed on them by parents and other authority figures. While this sometimes led to destructive behaviors, it was essentially healthy, for the kids themselves, who had more experiences and more independence, and for society, which needs to have the younger generations shake it up in order to evolve.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 8:53 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


real talk: driving is hella overrated

Driving 20-30 years ago was majestic and resplendent. The roads were much less crowded even in cities (I've heard LA residents long for the 90s because you could get places then, and then it had a reputation nationally as a traffic jam capital). Gas was cheap and the roads were wide open and the cops didn't really care unless you were being stupid and radio was good but you'd made mixtapes for the trip and when you're in your 20s you can drive for 30 hours basically without a break and the whole country was wide open to you if you had a life with some time off.

Driving today, everywhere I've driven in the past 10 years, has been a pain in the ass. Sometimes a fucking pain in the ass. I drive for a living (drove 270 miles today, in fact) and it's all awful everywhere even in the panhandle of Idaho which isn't heavily populated.

So yeah, driving is overrated. But not because it wasn't once a completely glorious thing.
posted by hippybear at 9:07 PM on September 19 [26 favorites]


I also question the accuracy of the study with regards to modern kids not having as much schoolwork as those in previous decades. Education is an arms race for credentials now, the job market is getting more difficult, the pressure to do better towards college is higher.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:12 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


Kids in the 70s rebelled against the constraints placed on them by parents and other authority figures. While this sometimes led to destructive behaviors, it was essentially healthy, for the kids themselves, who had more experiences and more independence, and for society, which needs to have the younger generations shake it up in order to evolve.


This was absolutely the case for me.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:16 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


People on the internet? Still actually people. Friends you socialize with through a screen? Still your friends.

Look, I spend a huge amount of time online too, I have countless friends I've never met in person. I recognize the value of that.

I just don't think it's quite the same. This is particularly true for romantic relationships (and mind you, I met my wife online back in 1996). There's just no way that texting/emails/etc. can duplicate the experience of living with someone, traveling the world with them, cooking with them, raising critters with them, caring for them when they're sick, or the millions of other mundane little interactions you go through day-to-day.

I have to say, I was kind of flabbergasted to read someone's comment above to the effect of "what's the point of dating when you're young." That strikes me as deeply regrettable. I understand that some people don't have that option, and I feel incredibly bad for them. But to throw it away willingly?? That is a profound loss...
posted by mikeand1 at 9:27 PM on September 19 [11 favorites]


Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? (very related article from the Atlantic that attributes this rise in the late onset in adolescence (citing evidence that children are going outside the house, leaving their parents company, driving, etc less...markers of not just adolescence, but actual childhood) to the ca.2012 period where smartphone adoption hit 50%. And the graphs are very similar to these)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:11 PM on September 19 [7 favorites +] [!]


Given that the article you link is bullshit, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this one is also bullshit.

Kids today are also going to fewer sock hops, malt shops, and drive-ins. There is very little difference between what I just mentioned as "markers for adulthood" and the ones mentioned in the article. Drinking, driving, and dating are not universal markers of maturity or rites of passage. I suspect that there are other markers that this (sensationalist) researcher has ignored in favor of ones that will grab the biggest headlines.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:37 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


None of my kids (16, 18, 20) drive yet, but they live downtown in big cities (Toronto, Montreal) where it's completely unnecessary and sort of pointless. By contrast I spent the first years of adolescence in the suburbs and could not wait to get my license when I turned 16.

I grew up just outside of one of the cities you mentioned, and virtually none of my high school friends got their licenses at 16 (we're older Millennials, for reference) because their parents chauffered them around. Said suburb has decent transit, but many of these people weren't allowed to take it because, well, probably Classism. I recall my friends finding it odd that I got my license as soon as I could - I lived with a non-driving parent at the time, but to my friends, it was unthinkable that one's parents couldn't be at their beck and call. I don't know where to begin with how messed up that assumption is, but I'd suspect it's pretty common among upper-middle-class kids who have the luxury of avoiding driving and working part-time.
posted by blerghamot at 9:52 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]


A century ago, when life expectancy was lower and college education less prevalent, “the goal back then was survival, not violin lessons by 5,” Twenge said.

In that model, a teenage boy might be thinking more seriously about marriage...


Except it turns out this last bit isn't true? The median age at first marriage [PDF] in the late 1800s/early 1900s in the USA was 26 for men; it reached a minimum in the 50s and 60s at around 23. First of all, those aren't that different, and secondly it argues if anything that adulthood isn't uniquely delayed now as much as it was enhanced by the peculiar environment of the post-war US. (The curve is also U-shaped for women but the maximum on the 1800s side is lower, probably because of gender inequality I am guessing.)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:58 PM on September 19 [10 favorites]


I've dated since I was in elementary school.

Uh, I'm pretty sure that you are not using the word "dating" to mean the same thing that anybody responding to this study would be.
posted by IAmUnaware at 10:01 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Uh, I'm pretty sure that you are not using the word "dating" to mean the same thing that anybody responding to this study would be.


Sure I am. I grew up awfully fast. I was the youngest of three boys growing up in the 70s. I was drinking and smoking pot by age nine, and I got my first full-time summer job when I was 12. I got expelled from school in the 7th grade, and started getting into the DC hardcore punk scene then.

It was a pretty different world. My parents largely ignored me except for when I seriously fucked up by totaling a car or trashing the house or something, and then they hammered me.

Didn't you ever see Dazed and Confused? Elementary and junior high kids weren't far behind the high school kids then.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:13 PM on September 19 [13 favorites]


Kids aren't getting fucked up and killing each other with cars anymore. Well, there must be something wrong with them. Ah, yes, smartphones.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:56 PM on September 19 [36 favorites]


hard to beat gaming, I guess
posted by philip-random at 11:01 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


BTW, in my work, I handle a lot of juvenile delinquency cases. In poor communities, the kids are definitely still getting fucked up and killing each other.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:15 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]


these kinda "good ol' days" articles are the textbook definition of conservatism and regressive-ism. i mean, pretty benign compared to everything else that's going on right now... but still, depressing that *without fail* they get the most clicks of any kind of prose on the internet.
posted by wibari at 11:29 PM on September 19 [8 favorites]


In the excellent series Freaks and Geeks (available on Netflix), which is set in the 70s and whose protagonists are a group of teenagers, the kids who follow the rules and don't get in trouble are presented as kind of sad. They're missing out on essential life experiences.

The main character is an academically gifted young woman who decides she'd rather hang out with the pot-smoking troublemakers, because it's more interesting and more fun. At the end of the series, instead of attending a prestigious academic summer program, she and a friend follow the Grateful Dead. Was she wrong? I don't think so.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 11:37 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]



I am happy he hasn't gotten into any trouble, but I worry he is playing it too safe.


he may well be. but back in my day the idea was that when you got drunk or burned tiny pinholes through your lungs with disgusting clove cigarettes or whatever, you didn't tell your parents. if the "lie" is as much of a lost teenage art as falling in love is, that really would be cause for moral panic.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:37 PM on September 19 [9 favorites]


"these kinda "good ol' days" articles are the textbook definition of conservatism and regressive-ism."

I see your point, but on the other hand, part of what's so surprising about these trends is that we've heard moral panic for the past 30, 40 years about how giving adolescents freedom, information, agency, respect, etc., would lead to depravity and horrible outcomes. And it turns out that access to sex ed, support of their sexual identities, more relaxed attitudes towards sexuality, greater acceptance of mild drug use in polite society as a whole (i.e., pot), access to abortion and contraception and information about the same without telling their parents, equality for girls, etc., has actually led to ... a pretty dramatic drop in risky/anti-social behaviors in teenagers, in total contrast to the panicked claims of the American Right.

So not only do I think it's very interesting (as someone very invested in the well-being of teenagers) to see these surprisingly large drops and to try to figure out what's driving them (and/or what drove such dramatic highs in the past), and whether those things are desirable or undesirable. (Like, you can prevent unwanted teen pregnancy by locking up girls at home until they get married, but that ain't desirable. Turns out you can also prevent it by giving young women access to accurate information about their bodies and good health care, who knew?) But I do think there's a real value to saying, "Look, these young people have been raised in the most progressive social environment in the history of the United States, with permissive attitudes towards most of the traditional moral questions we've wrestled with as a society, and they're making much safer decisions than people raised in much more restrictive times and restrictive environments. Teaching kids about sex and sexuality didn't result in a massive upswing in teen sex and teen pregnancy; it's coincided with a remarkable and unexpected drop. Loosening rules and social norms about alcohol (advertising is more permissive, blue laws are disappearing, more outlets can sell it, it's more normal for adults to have a drink in mixed company at a casual social occasion) hasn't led to a spike in youth alcohol abuse; they're actually using less." Every time Republicans say "we have to restrict kids from access to information and prevent them from having any agency over their own lives, to protect them," people who care about kids' health should be pointing out, "It turns out doing that leads to outcomes contrary to your goals, while providing young people information and agency tends to lead to them making good choices and promotes the outcomes you claim to* care about."

(*in my experience, some care about the outcomes, but a lot more care about the authoritarianism and they kind-of don't care how terrible the outcomes are as long as the authoritarian structure is intact.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:58 PM on September 19 [60 favorites]


A little well-placed rebellion and rules-circumvention as a teen is helpful as an adult.

So, the kids are doing things the adults find mystifying, irritating, bizarre and not-at-all-what-they-would-do?

That is rebellion and rule circumvention.
posted by chavenet at 3:14 AM on September 20 [19 favorites]


These kids sound like they're living out my teenagerhood. I didn't get a driver's license til I was in my 20s (needed it for a delivery job) and I didn't really date til then either. Didn't drink til I was in my 30s. I stayed home and read books and made plinky songs on a cheap synthesizer and wrote poems. "Going out" seemed like a horrible bore to me and still does. I'm middle aged now, have stopped drinking altogether and if I go out it's to a concert or a play or to dinner with my wife.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:41 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I think there is a big dose of parental narcissism in the idea of "rebellion" - as if authority figures are a central concern or motivator, and The Kids are basing their choices around opposition to them. The truth is, perhaps, they are simply uninterested in them anymore, and ignore them as irrelevant.That's harder to live with than is thinking, oh, they are rebelling against us.
posted by thelonius at 3:42 AM on September 20 [26 favorites]


I graduated high school in 1976, and I concur that setting that year as a baseline for these things is a real mistake. The '70s were the aberration. I smoked marijuana in junior high school and you can imagine everything that followed that. My kids, who are 19 and 20 now, are more like my parents (born in the '30s), who didn't drink, drive, or have sex before adulthood.

I always believed that kids should drive, date, and hold a job in high school, because otherwise, who would help them learn to do it? My parents had to teach themselves to drive, with me in the back seat in a basket. My kids learned to drive in high school, but there wasn't much I could do to make them date (and they didn't much) or find a job (although they tried).

And now one is working her way through college and just bought a car with her summer internship earnings. The other is working in Europe, engaged to be married next year. Their peers think they are "so brave" to do those things. They don't need to drink or sleep around to be successful adults.
posted by Miss Cellania at 4:26 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


"these kinda "good ol' days" articles are the textbook definition of conservatism and regressive-ism."

On the other hand, assuming that everything young people do is above question simply because young people are doing it is unalloyed Boomer Youth Culture-ism.
posted by thelonius at 4:49 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


It's so bad that the coming remake of Dawson's Creek had to change its theme song to "I wanna wait....for our lives to be over!"
posted by rikschell at 4:59 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


"I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really."

–Douglas Adams
posted by entropicamericana at 5:01 AM on September 20 [53 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: But I do think there's a real value to saying, "Look, these young people have been raised in the most progressive social environment in the history of the United States, with permissive attitudes towards most of the traditional moral questions we've wrestled with as a society, and they're making much safer decisions than people raised in much more restrictive times and restrictive environments.

The traditional fascist response is that all of this safety and progressiveness is making the youth less fit for war.

And it is.

And that's good.
posted by clawsoon at 5:18 AM on September 20 [11 favorites]


I'd almost rather people just not even talk about this stuff than talk about it this way. Moral panic over kids not taking enough stupid risks seems like the last thing anybody needs to be wasting time and attention on worrying over right now. What a waste of the finite and evershrinking resource of channels expected to deliver serious journalism. Now we're (sorry) pearlclutching over kids not behaving irresponsibly enough? Fuck me I'm getting sick of identifying as American.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:18 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


Personally I'd be fine with it if my kids never drank at all. I've told my son I'd rather he not feel pressured and compelled to "experiment" with "partying" at all but that I'd be less worried if he used weed than alcohol, because it's safer. I've known too many people who drank themselves to death to find this whole line of thought entertaining.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:25 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


throwing up southern comfort is the thing of teenage years

Parents away for the weekend, and I had an all night pity party with a full bottle of Southern Comfort and How Soon is Now over and over on the VCR. Woke up in a daze and for quite a while couldn't figure out why there was puke all over the place. That was about 30 years ago and still can't go near the stuff.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:26 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


At the end of the series, instead of attending a prestigious academic summer program, she and a friend follow the Grateful Dead. Was she wrong?

I would have encouraged her to attend the prestigious summer program and then buy Dick's Picks.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:31 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Post 2007 economic recession when adults took lower paying jobs and pushed kids out of the 'stockboy' roles in grocery stores? Post 1980's 1990s growth of 'the perfect lawn' concept and the movement from the neighbor kid running a lawnmower across it instead of having a 'lawn service' take care of your lawn? Really? We're surprised that kids don't have as many jobs?

And no jobs means less cash, and also less physical access to alcohol, which, combined with improved systemic record keeping it is *hard* for kids to steal or ring up alcohol illegally. Now, the cash thing is sorta bad, because it results in kids reliant on 'adults' to fund their activities and reduces their opportunity to fuck up with money with few stakes/consequences... but the rest is easily something that regulation and tech has improved. Fewer 'school activities' means that kids don't live at their school like i did until my parents came and got me from sports/drama/music/other activities offered through the school. If you look, kids are involved year round in one activity with schedules built outside of it instead of fall soccer/football, winter basketball/track/swimming, spring baseball/softball/track, and summer camps for 2 weeks tops... now they do leagues which practice at adulting times during the week and play all weekend... so your parents now can superfan... which means there is less necessity for a kid to drive them self... we've convenienced the parents and priced things such that a license is avoidable...

Lastly, dating... well. we've scheduled them, deprived them of vehicles and alcohol, and we can do that because they don't have jobs... so they are insularly dependent on their parents, and dating... well... they're already dating mom in many circumstances. You think I kid? Who 'by default' gets them to and from their activities? Who 'signs them up' for things? Who spends their time watching them throughout their activities? Their girl friend, their mom!
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:32 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


That was about 30 years ago and still can't go near the stuff.

You got vaccinated against Southern Comfort. This is good.
posted by thelonius at 5:33 AM on September 20 [12 favorites]


You got vaccinated against Southern Comfort. This is good.

I got that same vaccination at age 18 - shots of Southern Comfort with a little 151 floated on top so we could light the shots. Haven't touched the stuff since.
posted by COD at 6:04 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


In my limited experience, I have found that people who claim that kids today don't know how to work and have no ambition are the same people who are hiring professional lawn care services for their perfectly manicured lawn.

Even 15 years ago, my neighbours were willing to hire me to do a decent-but-not-great job around their house. I did a lot of sorta-okay painting, lawn cutting, and dog walking. There also was a lot more DIY at that time, as people seemed genuinely interested with tinkering with their own houses. Those jobs were the springboard to my first paycheque jobs because I had references and a history of showing up on time.

Some of this might be increased hours of work to make a living which has reduced the amount of time some people have to perform maintenance, but I have also noticed the standard for keeping up appearances in the middle class has shot through the roof. Anyone not simulating the jobs people see on HGTV is not good enough anymore.
posted by notorious medium at 6:17 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


what middle class
posted by entropicamericana at 6:27 AM on September 20 [7 favorites]


I just figure, what was nerdy when I was in school is normal now.

I graduated in 1989. I didn't date until I was 32. I went to one actual party in high school and it was pretty much a disaster. I didn't really have friends I saw outside of school except for one brief would-be band that also played D&D, and we got together about 3-4 times total.
posted by Foosnark at 6:28 AM on September 20


The not driving thing is interesting to me, since every job I've ever had (except for the one when I was 14 and two temp jobs in college) has required me to be able to drive (and many of them have required that I have my own vehicle, for that matter). There's other work I could do that would be possible with no license, but it has been a requirement my entire working life and it's an interesting thought experiment how different my life now would be if I didn't drive.

Driving 20-30 years ago was majestic and resplendent. The roads were much less crowded even in cities (I've heard LA residents long for the 90s because you could get places then, and then it had a reputation nationally as a traffic jam capital). Gas was cheap and the roads were wide open and the cops didn't really care unless you were being stupid and radio was good but you'd made mixtapes for the trip and when you're in your 20s you can drive for 30 hours basically without a break and the whole country was wide open to you if you had a life with some time off.

I agree that roads had less traffic then, which was nice, but I also remember the years of 55 mph speed limits, which weren't so nice. And maybe this is just a personal taste thing, but my experience driving cross country in the early 1990s was that the radio was Not Good.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:29 AM on September 20


In my limited experience, I have found that people who claim that kids today don't know how to work and have no ambition are the same people who are hiring professional lawn care services for their perfectly manicured lawn.
Professional lawn care services are not the norm where I live, and a lot of people grumble that it's no longer possible to find a kid to mow your lawn or shovel snow. On the other hand, I think those people are probably imagining that they'd pay those kids the same rates that lawn-mowing kids earned in the '70s. They want a kid to mow their lawn for $5, and of course no kid is going to do that, except maybe as a favor for a neighbor who needs help.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:30 AM on September 20 [6 favorites]


It seems to me like this whole thing might be a mixed bag, and could usefully be broken out by class, gender, region, race, etc. Like, maybe some aspects of the internet, smartphones, etc, have improved kids' lives, and some have made them worse?

I think that a big, big intellectual error we're all prone to is what you might call lumping - anything that happens at the same time or has a connection to the same thing must have the same cause, things that stem from one cause must all have the same effect, everyone in a given cohort must be affected the same way by a thing, the past was homogeneous and experienced by everyone the same way, etc.

And I think we're all prone to a short horizon, too. Like, in terms of smart phones and internet friends - what about times and cohorts where people just....were not able to keep in touch? What about farmers and immigrants pre-telephone (and pre-internet)? On the one hand, yes, online interaction has its downsides (and I think we like to pretend those don't exist) but on the other, humans have survived (often sad and lonely!) times and places where even the high volume but kind of thin connection of the internet didn't exist. What if you had to leave your home and never talk to anyone again except if you could get letters to them on an infrequent basis? People had to do that.

I don't think this leads us to "well, it's a wash - whatever is, is right", but rather to a more nuanced set of goals and recommendations. Like, I think it would be interesting to separate out questions of risk, health and privacy/autonomy, and try to look at the pros and cons. It seems to be good for teenagers in modern societies to have some comfort with risk and some ability to test things out in privacy/autonomy, for instance, and it seems like it's tricky to balance health risks with those things. (Like, some health risks are obviously bad - but what about the kinds of things like "you plan poorly and don't bring a coat, you're cold" and "you can choose your own lunches even if they're terrible" and "sometimes you can choose to be in environments that are not entirely clean and safe, such as grungy music venues or the apartments of college student friends").
posted by Frowner at 6:30 AM on September 20 [16 favorites]


a lot of people grumble that it's no longer possible to find a kid to mow your lawn or shovel snow

In the 13 or so years we've lived here in Eastern WA, we've only had kids come around one winter offering to shovel snow. And let me tell you, they were a godsend. I'd broken several ribs and mr hippybear was working out of town, and it was snowing and I was despairing about what I was going to do. These two kids showed up and I paid them well to clear the snow and then they showed up after every snowfall for the rest of the winter.

Haven't seen any offer of lawn mowing or snow shoveling since, but for that one winter, two enterprising kids in my small town were exactly what I needed. Thank you Universe!
posted by hippybear at 6:35 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


I bet a children's/teens' chore collective would clean up around here. We pay $15/hour for yardwork and painting and so on with the understanding that it will be your classic good-enough job, no need to be perfect, and I would love it if there were a central point even for mobilizing my friends' kids. Some kids hate yardwork but don't mind painting, some kids like gardening but hate mowing, some kids don't mind getting up early to shovel, etc. I mean, I would seriously love some more help on the house since my housemates' health is such that I'm pretty much the primary person and I'm bad at it, but most of the time I don't need a professional, I need someone who can push a mower or carry things. (With a one-hour minimum, I should specify - we don't expect people to show up to carry a few things and then go home with, like, $3.50)
posted by Frowner at 6:35 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


My son didn't have a job while he was in high school because he had a hard enough time managing the time he had due to severe ADHD. Having him work would have meant that his grades would have taken a deep dive and he didn't need that.

My daughter had a summer job between freshman and sophomore years. She was a grocery bagger/cart wrangler at our local Big Chain grocery store. It was a good job and because she was an excellent worker, she got lots of shifts and made a bunch of money. But when school started back up, they absolutely would not work with her school and extra-curricular activities (which consists solely of theatre) so she quit. Had they worked with her schedule, she would have stayed. But because they kept putting her on the schedule at times she literally couldn't be there (i.e. shift started at 3:00, she doesn't get out of school until 3:15; scheduling her until 11pm on a school night which is actually illegal here; shit like that), they lost a good, hard worker.

As for "what kids do these days," I often feel like such an outlier because I didn't really do a lot of the things my peers did. I didn't drink, I didn't smoke (pot or otherwise), I didn't have sex. What I did do was work, school, and extra-curriculars. I hung out with a few other like-minded friends but really I was a pretty tame teenager. And my teens were/are the same. It took my son a little longer to get his license but my daughter got hers right on time (along with all of her friends, minus one who just doesn't care) at 16. She is the senior editor in chief of the yearbook, she's the Thespian Society President, she volunteers at the zoo, and she's an honor student. She still finds time to hang out with her friends and she's had a boyfriend for about a year now.

So it seems like my kids aren't that much different from me when I was their age, and my daughter tells me stories about other kids at her school who aren't in her "friend group" who drink and party. What someone sees definitely depends on the teen they're looking at.

The long and short of it: teens are like, actual people who have differing ideas about what it means to be in the world.
posted by cooker girl at 6:48 AM on September 20 [9 favorites]


My biggest regret about when I was a teenager/young adult (70s) was that I started drinking too soon and drank too much, too often. This caused me to miss out on learning to relate better to people without the filter/excuse of being drunk. So if teenagers are getting drunk less... good.

We didn't have kids so no firsthand experience with the newer crop, but one thing I've seen is that fewer seem to develop interests in their youth that set their path to a career. Me, I pretty much knew my career direction before high school, so this is utterly foreign to me.

I don't fear for today's kids, except for the way that our and previous generations have robbed them of opportunities and left them such a big mess to clean up.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:00 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


one thing I've seen is that fewer seem to develop interests in their youth that set their path to a career. Me, I pretty much knew my career direction before high school, so this is utterly foreign to me.

What's a "career"?

::sobs quietly into an avocado toast::
posted by melissasaurus at 7:17 AM on September 20 [17 favorites]


From 1950 to 1990, everyone walked around knowing that there was a nontrivial chance of a total nuclear exchange between the US and the USSR. That had an effect.

Things aren't all roses today, but my kids don't have that expectation of civilization ending overnight. Now it's more a sense that things will slowly get tougher as the planet warms and resources deplete, but there's still optimism that things can be turned around. So if there's any truth to this article considering the source, it makes sense to me.
posted by BeeDo at 7:18 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Geez, kids can't catch a break. "Too much" teen drinking has turned into "not enough" teen drinking.
posted by jcreigh at 7:19 AM on September 20 [9 favorites]


In the excellent series Freaks and Geeks (available on Netflix), which is set in the 70s and whose protagonists are a group of teenagers, the kids who follow the rules and don't get in trouble are presented as kind of sad. They're missing out on essential life experiences.

The main character is an academically gifted young woman who decides she'd rather hang out with the pot-smoking troublemakers, because it's more interesting and more fun. At the end of the series, instead of attending a prestigious academic summer program, she and a friend follow the Grateful Dead. Was she wrong? I don't think so.


Yeah, but those are characters in a TV show. That character is never going to look around her and go "wait, shit, I'm living in a van and I want a job that will pay me enough to put by a little savings for what might happen if my van goes to crap without having to beg money from parents who will take it out of my hide if they even have it." She's never going to wind up in a bad situation where she has to rely on someone untrustworthy because she doesn't have the economic wherewithal to get out. She's not going to find herself contemplating having kids and wondering how the ever-loving hell she could actually afford it.

She's not going to look around herself and say "fuck, I'm bored out of my mind in this pawnbroker job, but I can't work out how to get out of customer service and into something that will let me use my damn brain," which by the way applies to an awful lot of millenials who didn't have access to those prestigious summer programs that I know. Christ help you if you don't finish your degree, and if you take off for a summer to follow some band unless you have a lot of economic support coming from your parents you're basically dooming yourself economically for the foreseeable future.

I just. What. I don't live in that series! I don't live in the 1970s, and I don't live on a TV show, and honestly my life doesn't even get to be on TV shows--which is the case for an awful lot of millennials, y'know. And I'm closer than an awful lot of people who come from more marginalized backgrounds get! I don't fool myself into thinking that if I moved to New York City, I'd swing an affordable apartment the size of the one on Friends either. So what on earth are you trying to say about the choices that real millennial women have to make, in a real-world context, by referencing this television show?
posted by sciatrix at 7:25 AM on September 20 [19 favorites]


one thing I've seen is that fewer seem to develop interests in their youth that set their path to a career. Me, I pretty much knew my career direction before high school, so this is utterly foreign to me.
Oh god, I see completely the opposite. There is so much pressure on kids to figure out their career path before they're 12. So many of my students come to college having done these stupid, stupid pre-professional programs in high school, and they close off all sorts of other possibilities because they decided in seventh grade that they were going to be a pharmacist, so damn it, they're going to be a pharmacist. I actually feel like I had way more opportunity just to do stuff because I wanted to do it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:25 AM on September 20 [12 favorites]


A friend of mine's 16yo does a few hours babysitting a week for us-she's a sensible, friendly kid and tbh the most taxing thing she has to do is find "You're Welcome" on YouTube and she's all set. Some of her friends are jealous, she tells me, because they would love to get a babysitting job but no-one trusts them to do it.

I've spoken to a few parents about whether they'd like a teen babysitter and they say no, they'd be too worried, what about an emergency etc etc. And yet, when I was a teenager it was completely normal to babysit from about 13. Maybe it's all those horror movies and urban legends.
posted by threetwentytwo at 7:27 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


one thing I've seen is that fewer seem to develop interests in their youth that set their path to a career. Me, I pretty much knew my career direction before high school, so this is utterly foreign to me.

I'm firmly Gen-X and I have ONE friend who has been in the same line of work since we graduated from college: he's an actor. Everyone else is doing something completely different than what we started doing after college, and we made those moves mostly on purpose. Shit, I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up and I just turned 47. I love my current job but I just found out about this outdoor teaching thing with small kids and when mine are out of college I just might do it. It sounds SO AWESOME.

My son, on the other hand, the moment he wrote his first computer program, knew exactly what he wanted to do. My daughter has wanted to be a zoologist/animal handler/conservationist since she was FOUR, and she's now looking at those programs for college.

I'm not saying that is everyone's experience, and neither should you. Generalizations will be the death of all of us, I swear.
posted by cooker girl at 7:31 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


It's not that they aren't cool cars or whatever--the cars that're available cheap now seem to regularly be in a position where it's like, "runs reliably if you don't mind that it's about three minutes from needing a new catalytic converter and also the power steering doesn't work".

So what you're saying is that cheap used cars now are only maybe ten times as reliable as cheap used cars in the 70s and 80s?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:32 AM on September 20


Honestly, the majority of the people I know of all generations have jobs that they could get, not jobs that they "chose" based on career ambitions. Call centers, sex work, clerical jobs, retail, light industry, entry level social work, etc - the idea that you pick a "career" and then get a job in that field is basically an upper-level-of-the-middle-class and up thing. You get your education, as much as you can afford, and then you try to get a job, and then you keep that job as long as it lasts, or maybe you apply for something similar but one notch up.

In fairness, I did want to teach university English from when I was about ten, but that's a fool's game - I don't know anyone of my generation who has a tenure-track gig except for one person from an elite family on the east coast whose work and politics are kind of shitty IMO. Better scholars than I are adjuncting, and that's no kind of life.
posted by Frowner at 7:37 AM on September 20 [22 favorites]


Now that I'm breathing--look, like ProtectoroftheSmall I was a twelfth-grader in 2008, too. I got my license pretty much so I could shepherd my siblings to their after-school gigs, not so that I could go hang out with other people--why would I? My friends, like theirs, were scattered all over, and because I moved partway through high school, most of them were scattered across states and countries. And I had to account for my time to my parents, anyway.

(I have an awful lot of complicated feelings about the idea that internet relationships are less valid or less--oh, I don't even know what than face-to-face ones--speaking as someone who also met their current spouse online. Mostly I worry about restrictions on types of support and love that people can get from online support networks, but that's a different issue.)

Here's the thing, though: even when I had my own meatspace friends, my parents never much liked them anyway. Too... alt, I guess? Nerdy? Too not-like the friends they envisioned for me? And I was a kid who grew up with a certain amount of parental expectations and control, up to and including being forced to join some of those extracurricular activities with fairly limited choice about what it was I was doing with my free time. I just didn't have a lot of ability to act out without incurring fairly exhausting emotional consequences, and I picked my battles.

The Internet, though? Oh man, that's so much harder to police. I could go out and socialize with people on the Internet who my parents would have thrown a fucking fit about my hanging out with in real life; by the way, that includes most of y'all right here. Even more important, I could slide into discussions where I wasn't even talking and read and listen and think, and that got me exposed to adults as a peer in a way that just is not possible for a teenager offline. I was socialized as an adolescent on the Internet in ways that I could have never done without it, in ways that let me self-regulate my interactions with people of both my own age and older folks who basically taught me how to be a social person. I widened my social experience set far, far wider than my much less internet-savvy--but more meatspace-connected--sister has, and as a result I am pretty sure I have a much more varied toolbox of social interactions to pull from as well as more experience with more types of people than she does.

Teens on the internet can also use different pseudonyms to try on and interact with identities in the same way people used to do with clique identity, at least as far as I can understand from what people used to talk about. You can get in trouble that way, but in other ways it's easier to insulate teenagers from creepy adults preying on them when there is physical distance in the way--and in my circles, there were plenty of slightly-older adults who would have been giving advice and warning away younger children who were talking about dodgy shit, too.

If it takes a village to raise a child, these days the Internet is that village for many of us, for better or worse. For children born in the kind of homogeneous and insular communities I was, the Internet has become our access to a broader and more diverse society. And I think it's really dangerous to elide that in conversation, because the constraints on teenagers and young adults are narrowing so powerfully in their meatspace lives--particularly under the certain knowledge that anything they put on the internet under their legal name is forever, because adults will not shut the fuck up about it--that pseudonymous spaces on the Internet are often really the only places teenagers have to be themselves without fretting about parental expectations.
posted by sciatrix at 7:44 AM on September 20 [23 favorites]


Sciatrix, I flagged your comment as excellent. Thank you for saying this. TV shows aren't real life. If they were, I'd be Mary Richards, but, alas, I'm not!

Honestly, society has gone to the trouble of saying "this is your brain on drugs" and "don't have casual sex until you're older" and now a whole bunch of fiftysomethings are clutching their collective pearls because Kids These Days actually took their advice? My eyes are rolling so hard they're cramping - and I'm on the leading edge of GenX when rebellion was KEWL and stuff.

I believe there are other, and more positive, reasons for why Kids These Days might not be the rebels and risk-takers their parents were:

- Families are smaller and many parents are nicer to their kids. So many Kids These Days (tm) seem to like their parents as people, and vice versa, and in my day, that just wasn't true. Abuse began to ping the collective radar in the 70's but that was for serious physical abuse; emotional abuse didn't even register until about 20 years later. And fewer affluent parents are divorcing, and when they do, more attention and priority is paid to the kids and their mental health and welfare, not just being dragged around like rag dolls in the wake of their parents' Finding Themselves. So families are better, more nurturing, less alienating places for many kids.

- Girls being able to date (or not) and have sex (or not) more on their terms. Not nearly enough girls, but many many more than in the 70's and 80's. The underage groupie scene was big in the 70's - read about Sable Starr - and it wasn't thought of as abnormal that grown men would want to have sex with VERY young teens. I remember several of my friends who had Cool Older Boyfriends WITH CARS! - and yes, they had sex with these guys, and it wasn't Twoo Wuv as much as "he'll leave me if I don't" or "he didn't take my no for an answer." The rebellious, risky sex we girls in the 70's and 80's were having wasn't always, or even usually, fun and consensual. BT, DT, if I had kids I wouldn't want them to go through what I and my friends did.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:55 AM on September 20 [18 favorites]


I think there is a big dose of parental narcissism in the idea of "rebellion" - as if authority figures are a central concern or motivator, and The Kids are basing their choices around opposition to them. The truth is, perhaps, they are simply uninterested in them anymore, and ignore them as irrelevant.That's harder to live with than is thinking, oh, they are rebelling against us.

Rebellion has zero to do with parents. They just happen to be the authority closest at hand. It is the single most important factor in bettering society. Without rebellion we would still be living under the influence of McCarthyist ideologies. There would be no Black Lives Matter, no opposition to the worst in society. It is also the single most important factor in learning and evolving as an individual. To scoff at the concept of rebellion is frighteningly regressive and reactionary.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 8:02 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, less casual/careless sex and less unskilled driving and fewer drunken parties is not a bad thing. On the other, most of us are aware that the majority of teens do not have the judgment to decide "oh, these things are bad for me; I should wait, or only do them in circumstances where they are safer." Whatever reasons exist for these activities to drop at a rate that shows up on statistics, it's not "teens in general have gotten smarter about taking risks."

The fact that they don't seem to have been replaced with other risks may mean that teens aren't getting exposed to the kinds of judgment-call situations that will let them grow up into mature adults. There is no problem if teens, as a whole, have looked out at the world and said, "driving; meh - I have Uber; I have a bus system; I have a friend who drives - I don't need the hassle of the cost of gas and car maintenance." There is a problem if teens are not starting to sort out how they'll navigate their adult lives when they're no longer students.

There's a bigger problem if the reason they're not drinking is that opiods have replaced that niche, or they're not dating because they're socially incapable of in-person interaction. I'm not saying either of those is happening, just that the statistics should be followed up with, "so, what's replacing these formerly common teen activities? Is that just a societal shift: less drinking, more pot, meh, or is it a sign that we're not teaching teens to be adults, not teaching them to want to be adults?"
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:05 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


Rebellion has zero to do with parents. They just happen to be the authority closest at hand. It is the single most important factor in bettering society. Without rebellion we would still be living under the influence of McCarthyist ideologies. There would be no Black Lives Matter, no opposition to the worst in society. It is also the single most important factor in learning and evolving as an individual. To scoff at the concept of rebellion is frighteningly regressive and reactionary.

I feel like drawing any kind of link between teen drinking and drug use and Black Lives Matter is a bit bizarre. Rebelling against authority in some contexts is good for society obviously but that doesn't somehow make all rebellion against all authority figures somehow desirable. It's not the rebellion aspect that makes Black Lives Matter a good thing.
posted by armadillo1224 at 8:08 AM on September 20 [10 favorites]



I feel like drawing any kind of link between teen drinking and drug use and Black Lives Matter is a bit bizarre.

I would feel that way too if anyone had remotely drawn that link.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 8:09 AM on September 20


[Rebellion] is also the single most important factor in learning and evolving as an individual.

I think that title goes to "mistakes."
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:10 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I would feel that way too if anyone had remotely drawn that link.

Then can you explain your comment? I have no idea what you're trying to say.
posted by armadillo1224 at 8:11 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Rebellion has zero to do with parents. They just happen to be the authority closest at hand. It is the single most important factor in bettering society.

I read that comment not as rejecting the concept of rebellion, but as criticizing parents who assume they're the central figure of their children's stories when they might not even be named in the index. Some parents can't conceive of their children as separate human beings who have their own existence, experiences, motivations, and emotions.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:11 AM on September 20 [10 favorites]


[Rebellion] is also the single most important factor in learning and evolving as an individual.

WHAT DO WE WANT? CITATION NEEDED!!! WHEN DO WE WANT IT??? NOW!!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:12 AM on September 20 [22 favorites]


Rebellion has zero to do with parents.

What are you rebelling against?
posted by mr. digits at 8:13 AM on September 20


You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:21 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


I feel like drawing any kind of link between teen drinking and drug use and Black Lives Matter is a bit bizarre. Rebelling against authority in some contexts is good for society obviously but that doesn't somehow make all rebellion against all authority figures somehow desirable. It's not the rebellion aspect that makes Black Lives Matter a good thing.

You're not supposed to edit your comment besides fixing a typo. I would have responded differently if this comment had been more than just the first sentence, which is what it was initially.

Actually, all rebellion against authority figures is not only desirable but necessary. It doesn't always have to be loud and confrontational, so perhaps you are misconstruing what rebellion can include. It is absolutely the foundation of creating a just society. And of course it's the rebellion aspect that makes Black Lives Matter a good thing. I don't even understand what you are talking about when you say that it isn't. BLM is about rejecting (rebelling against!!!) racism, injustice, white supremacy, and the overarching authority embodied by the police, which is the strong arm of the state.
posted by Vispa Teresa at 8:30 AM on September 20


Actually, all rebellion against authority figures is not only desirable but necessary.

Don't tell me what to do.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:50 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


The fact that they don't seem to have been replaced with other risks may mean that teens aren't getting exposed to the kinds of judgment-call situations that will let them grow up into mature adults.

"Kids today are doing things differently than in the past, which means they won't be able to adult as well" has been said about probably every generation when they are kids, and yet we keep having lots of mature adults. Kids today will probably grow into a generation that has just as many mature adults as previous generations.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:58 AM on September 20 [6 favorites]


Here's the thing, though: even when I had my own meatspace friends, my parents never much liked them anyway. Too... alt, I guess? Nerdy? Too not-like the friends they envisioned for me?

In a LOT of pieces like these, I get the sense that a lot of “mainstream” parents are mostly worried that their kids are “nerds” according to the standards of their own adolescences.

My kids aren’t going to parties? My kids don’t care about name brand fashion? My kids prefer reading to socializing? My kids don’t want to get a car to make donuts in the football field of the rival team? My kids like discussing economic theory with adults in other countries online? My kids are delaying initiation of pot/alcohol for various reasons? My kids are focused on academics as a path to financial viability? BUT WHAT ABOUT MY TEENAGED UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORRRRRLD THAT SAYS THERE ARE WINNERS AND LOSERS AND POPULARITY IS A ZERO SUM GAME WITH RIGID SOCIAL HIERARCHIES AND CODES OF CONDUCT????

Just recently I spoke to a family member who is worried that her kids care too much about social justice, because it is “weird” and “annoying”. She also thinks they care too much about people with mental illness, because doing so makes them “discriminatory” to people who are neurotypical. (One of her children literally has PTSD.)

A vibe I constantly get is that a lot of unreformed Regina Georges now have kids who aren’t into HS tribalism and cruelty, and it bothers them that their own formative experiences have been discarded.

If anything, this does seem like rebellion-- which is why so many of these parents are so annoyed. They have told their kids that the world works in certain ways, and their kids have rejected those values in favor of being safer and kinder, and it seems to drive their parents NUTS.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:58 AM on September 20 [32 favorites]


But I do think there's a real value to saying, "Look, these young people have been raised in the most progressive social environment in the history of the United States, with permissive attitudes towards most of the traditional moral questions we've wrestled with as a society, and they're making much safer decisions than people raised in much more restrictive times and restrictive environments.

Yes, that's a nice way of putting it, and I would be very happy if pop-culture articles were framed in this way. But is this really the feeling you get when you read these articles? To me, they always feel like they have a twinge (or more) of moral panic just based on the fact that the youth is different. It almost doesn't matter how they're different, or what is being compared to what. I wish trend pieces had the kind of optimistic nuance you describe!
posted by wibari at 9:05 AM on September 20 [3 favorites]



In a LOT of pieces like these, I get the sense that a lot of “mainstream” parents are mostly worried that their kids are “nerds” according to the standards of their own adolescences.


This was a big and rather surprising worry for my parents, both of whom were huge nerds. Part of it is generational - their nerdery was different from that of my generation, so they saw my generation's as faintly pathological. But it was still weird - they have almost never liked any of my friends, and they've said that this is because my friends are weird/nerds/etc. True enough - my friends are weird, but frankly none of them are half as weird as my family. We are weird people, it's just that we're also very boring - most of my weird friends do interesting weird stuff, but my family and I are just intrinsically weird.

The other thing was that they did not recognize that many of the things that made me a nerdy social outcast were either things that they valued (liking to read and write, wanting good grades) or things that they controlled and I did not (what clothes they bought me, not being allowed to watch TV or listen to the radio, etc). They felt that they were raising me the "normal" way and that everyone else was weird, but it doesn't work like that. (Most memorable teen fight with parents: I wore a black skirt and a purple shirt to school and returned home to a good yelling from my father because I'd upset my mother by "dressing like a witch". Also, I was not allowed to wear cut-offs of even the most modest style. And they really, really believed that only weird people would wear two dark colors together, or wear cut off shorts - weirdos and lowlifes.)
posted by Frowner at 9:09 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


I dunno man, like a lot of folks here, I was a troubled youth, punk, drug using, drinking, race car driving, nightmare of a teen. My kid is an AP, Rotc saber team, gamer who spends weekend nights on Xbox with his tribe. He's the Alex P. Keaton of rebellion. Of the two choices, his certainly looks like the more productive, less destructive rebellion.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:13 AM on September 20 [3 favorites]


Kids today will probably grow into a generation that has just as many mature adults as previous generations.

I'd like to believe that, but adults these days, who were the kids-these-days of not long ago, recently elected a petulant racist tyrant to run the nation, so I'm a bit less than cavalier about the irrelevancy of the details and choices of teen lifestyles.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:15 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there's any chance that these behaviors are more or less unchanged, but with the near-universal documentation of teenager's lives through social media they are just more honest?

There have been quite a few times I've reconnected with acquaintances who I thought were complete party animals in high school only to find out it was mostly an act to appear cooler. It would be much harder for them to pull that off if they were photographed and tagged any time they stepped out the door. Maybe "OH YEAH I BEEN HIGH AND PULLING TAIL SINCE I WAS TWELVE" isn't really possible when every detail of your social activity and relationships is public news?
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:19 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


A vibe I constantly get is that a lot of unreformed Regina Georges now have kids who aren’t into HS tribalism and cruelty, and it bothers them that their own formative experiences have been discarded.em

I'm reminded of Channing Tatum's confusion in the remake of 21 Jump Street
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:23 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


METAFILTER: all of this safety and progressiveness is making the youth less fit for war
posted by philip-random at 9:32 AM on September 20 [6 favorites]


If it takes a village to raise a child, these days the Internet is that village for many of us, for better or worse. For children born in the kind of homogeneous and insular communities I was, the Internet has become our access to a broader and more diverse society.

Is it, though? Most of this kind of talk I do dismiss as a weird inverse moral panic. Whatever the Youth of Today are doing, they must be Doing It Wrong, etc. But I must admit that I have been quite struck recently between the differences in my teenage Internet experiences (mid-90s) and what some young people expect today. As a teenager, I happily lied about my age in order to be able to participate in various adult fannish forums. (When I say "adult," I don't mean it as a euphemism for "sex industry," just...not really aimed at or inclusive of kids, so naturally including some of those kinds of activities.) Like many a teenager, I had both good and bad experiences as a result, and, while I dodged the worst possible bad experiences, I wouldn't deny that they happened to people. But I wanted the experiences, and I do think it was a safer way to get them than what was available to previous generations, since mostly I didn't interact with people offline.

These days in fandom we get a significant number of young people yelling on tumblr about how they're kids, dammit, and how dare adults even be present in fandom, much less do adult things somewhere in the same sphere where a teenager determined to stumble over them (by refusing to use the many more filtering options that are available than when I was a teenager) might do so. While the hypothetical kid invoked in these conversations is always 13, if that, in actual fact most of the ones who are actually under 18, as opposed to just enjoying a good excuse for outrage, must be at least high-schoolers, and probably closer to 18 than to 13. Like, the assumption is that any space into which minors might wander should immediately shut down all adult activities...and the assumption is coming from the minors, not from their parents. There doesn't seem to be any sense in these particular young people's minds that adult experience is desirable or that part of adolescence is, in fact, taking risks to explore your limits and your world. They expect random strangers on the Internet to take the same responsibility for their safety as their parents do, and to conduct themselves as they would in their own home.

This is a relatively small group, and clearly there are other dynamics at work here than just terror of experience, but it weirds me out how some younger people seem determined to shut down the Internet precisely as a window into a broader world.
posted by praemunire at 9:47 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


@praemunire: my guess is that the kids see tumblr (or wherever) as their space that adults are invading, rather than a coveted adult space that they have somehow gained admission to. Sort of like the parents trying to join the conversation at a slumber party*.

* Not sure if those happen anymore.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:56 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


* Not sure if those happen anymore.

They do, but (IME) they don't happen with as much frequency as when we were teens.
posted by cooker girl at 10:07 AM on September 20


Praemunire: I wonder if all the hysteria about stranger danger feeds into this. Don't talk to strangers, don't walk to school alone because A Stranger might kidnap you, etc. - I wonder how many kids are afraid of all unknown adults because they've been taught to be.

Of course, kids are in far more danger of abuse from family members and trusted adults like coaches (see: Dennis Hastert and Jerry Sandusky) in their own communities - not random strangers who want to chat about Harry Potter. You can't trust strangers, but you can trust faaaaamily! So any adult who isn't faaaaamily or a teacher/other professional is scary and must be warded off.

I think there may also be a tendency, among all ages, to see our online life as an extension of our own living rooms because we're online so much and communicate with so many people - friends, family, co-workers, doctors, strangers - online. The world is our village, and, dammit, It Takes A Village and all that, so step up, village!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:12 AM on September 20


Addendum to my statement above:

And, at least for my daughter, the chance to disconnect from her friends is taken at every opportunity. She doesn't feel the need for sleepovers/slumber parties very much because they're ALWAYS connected, via SnapChat, texting, Skype, etc. It's actually harder for her in that respect. When I was fighting with my best friend, for example, I could go home after school and not have to think about it or deal with it until school the next day. When my daughter and her best friend "broke up," there was immediate social media backlash, lots of blocking and deleting (including a threatening text to my daughter from her friend's friend), and that went on for HOURS until she got sick of it and shut her phone off.

I am actually super glad that I'm not a teen these days, given how public it all seems now. I think the teens my daughter's age (give or take a few years, of course) are navigating it pretty well, all things considered. Or maybe she just hangs out with kids who aren't generally assholes about social media.
posted by cooker girl at 10:12 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


These days in fandom we get a significant number of young people yelling on tumblr about how they're kids, dammit, and how dare adults even be present in fandom, much less do adult things somewhere in the same sphere where a teenager determined to stumble over them (by refusing to use the many more filtering options that are available than when I was a teenager) might do so. While the hypothetical kid invoked in these conversations is always 13, if that, in actual fact most of the ones who are actually under 18, as opposed to just enjoying a good excuse for outrage, must be at least high-schoolers, and probably closer to 18 than to 13. Like, the assumption is that any space into which minors might wander should immediately shut down all adult activities...and the assumption is coming from the minors, not from their parents. There doesn't seem to be any sense in these particular young people's minds that adult experience is desirable or that part of adolescence is, in fact, taking risks to explore your limits and your world. They expect random strangers on the Internet to take the same responsibility for their safety as their parents do, and to conduct themselves as they would in their own home.

So... My sense about this, as a person with a kid sister (now fifteen) in fandom, is that these kids are a loud and unusual minority who think of fandom as something that is created exclusively for and by youth. In some ways, they aren't wrong: different fandoms certainly skew to very different average age ranges, and the social networks, and what qualifies as fannish youth varies widely from space to space, and older fans do tend to be a bit less numerous. As I see it, these are probably mostly teenagers who enter fandom in heavily teen centered spaces where they develop a notion of fandom as for teens, particularly if their parents are actively denigrating or discouraging fannish participation. Then they suddenly run into other megafandoms popular with wider age ranges, realize how much age diversity is out there, and either do a lot of interested reading on fandom history or freak the fuck out. I suspect most teens, judging from my sister and some of the eyerolling comments she's made about fandom dynamics, are doing the second.

I have this whole other theory that Tumblr as a platform amplifies and extends conflict by forcibly mixing spaces and conversations up while stripping them of context, but I'm typing from a smartphone on a bus so I'll skip that particular digression for now.
posted by sciatrix at 10:23 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


(For the record, I did the first thing myself, which is why I have found myself in the position of having ancient fannish history explained to me by older folks in media fandom when I already knew damn well what I was talking about! Generational dynamics: turns out subcultures do not make us immune to them, and in some ways they perpetuate themselves the same way within wider and older subcultures as they do in mainstream culture.)
posted by sciatrix at 10:27 AM on September 20


I forgot which order I was putting things in, so this:

I suspect most teens, judging from my sister and some of the eyerolling comments she's made about fandom dynamics, are doing the second.


Should really read:

I suspect most teens, judging from my sister and some of the eyerolling comments she's made about fandom dynamics, are doing the first.

Whoops.

posted by sciatrix at 10:32 AM on September 20


Teens today (and forever)
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:35 AM on September 20


NB that the study at least claims that these trends cut across lower/middle/upper class lines, so it's not only a matter of not being able to afford a car for the family, much less a teen anymore.

I do think there is something to the job thing being a mix of adults filling the jobs teens used to have, and a social shift that sees teens as less responsible or able to do a lot of jobs. My very first job at 16 was an assisted-living aide, mostly food service but we had to know who got which juice and who was low-sodium diet and all that. It's harder for me to imagine a teenager with no work experience being trusted with that job now.

I wonder too if the car thing is less "freeing" because of such constant contact with your parents. We used to sneak off to the big city to do um, nerdy things like Rocky Horror, but we couldn't have done that if we were expected to answer when our parents called and they could tell we weren't just at our friend's house. It's less tempting to do rebellious stuff with your car when your parents can check up on you anytime. (IDK, maybe not all parents are this helicoptery?)
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:37 AM on September 20




Rebellion has zero to do with parents. They just happen to be the authority closest at hand.

I remember going to the local knitting store once, and the owner said that knitting is popular every other generation, because people must do exactly what their parents are not doing.
posted by Melismata at 10:45 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Well, based on all current evidence, the Littlest Naberius is going to upend all these statistics in a whirlwind of thrill seeking daredeviltry. The other parents in her play group have voted her most likely to someday leap off the roof wearing a mask, goggles, and a cape she made out of a towel.

She's only a year old and already she's more this than she is that article. I am both very proud, and completely terrified.
posted by Naberius at 10:46 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Maybe Millenials would have an easier time finding jobs IF THEY WEREN'T KILLING ALL THE APPLEBEES.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:48 AM on September 20 [7 favorites]


Professional lawn care services are not the norm where I live, and a lot of people grumble that it's no longer possible to find a kid to mow your lawn or shovel snow. On the other hand, I think those people are probably imagining that they'd pay those kids the same rates that lawn-mowing kids earned in the '70s. They want a kid to mow their lawn for $5, and of course no kid is going to do that, except maybe as a favor for a neighbor who needs help.

Good point on wages - although I will also note that, when I was 13, I wasn't drumming up business - neighbors would ask my parents if the boy would cut their lawn. Similar to babysitting gigs for my sisters (I am realizing how gendered work as a teen was) - people asked my parents about them. I wonder to some degree whether the increased isolation of suburbia (previous threads on how, in the suburbs, everyone drives everywhere and knowing your neighbors is not as prevalent as it once was) has led to both adults who need help and teens who need work being unable to find one another.
posted by notorious medium at 10:52 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]


Man I went to an Applebee's a couple weeks ago because it was the only place my friend and I could get both food and booze after 10pm near my apartment. We got chicken strips, fries, and a couple of massive frozen margaritas each of which had an entire mini bottle of sparkling wine upended in it.

I have had better fries and chicken strips at literally every fast food restaurant I have ever been to, and at over half of the school cafeterias I've been to. Literally if we had snuck in some McDonald's or even heated-up frozen food, we would have had a better meal. It wasn't gross, just... bland and flavorless and limp and slightly soggy.

The drinks were too sweet but otherwise acceptable and certainly alcoholic. 3/10, would possibly return if my local sports bar shut down and there was a UNC game on and I didn't want to get on a train.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:00 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


Hey, not sure if it's directly come up yet, but I wonder how many kids are more law-abiding these days because they know to be afraid of the police.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:04 AM on September 20 [10 favorites]


Related: I'm sad to hear that BW3 is on the down-and-out. Only ever went there maybe once a year, but it was awesome to eat tasty wings, drink tasty beer and play electronic trivia.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:24 AM on September 20


Honestly, the majority of the people I know of all generations have jobs that they could get, not jobs that they "chose" based on career ambitions. Call centers, sex work, clerical jobs, retail, light industry, entry level social work, etc - the idea that you pick a "career" and then get a job in that field is basically an upper-level-of-the-middle-class and up thing.
That's not my experience, for what it's worth. I've actually found that working-class kids are more likely to have taken part in really career-focused high-school enrichment programs. I think the idea is to bridge the opportunity gap between them and more-elite students, but the elite students are often doing activities that actually seem more meaningful.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:27 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


As I see it, these are probably mostly teenagers who enter fandom in heavily teen centered spaces where they develop a notion of fandom as for teens, particularly if their parents are actively denigrating or discouraging fannish participation. Then they suddenly run into other megafandoms popular with wider age ranges, realize how much age diversity is out there, and either do a lot of interested reading on fandom history or freak the fuck out

I mean, I think that's right, but my point is that at their age (for the ones who are still actually minors), even without knowing fandom history, it would never have occurred to me that it was desirable to try to shut down that adult activity. Much of the point was trying to figure out the grown-up world. The idea of teens, rather than their parents, going somewhere that adults are being adults and demanding that they stop because "now minors are around!" is totally foreign to my notions of adolescence. And, for all my Internet adventures, I was (shocking on Mefi, I know) a pretty nerdy kid from a culturally conservative family.

It's not a scourge of mankind or anything, and fandom will survive, but even as a minor localized phenomenon it struck me as odd.
posted by praemunire at 11:39 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


Re: the video games. It's probably a chicken/egg situation but the last time I tried to buy a multiplayer game that didn't require an online connection, the pickins were pretty slim. Even for just a two player game. It seems like now, even if you wanted to have your friends over to play video games, you cant because most games don't have an option for two people to play on the same console.

I'm sure this is all a conspiracy by Big Game!
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:07 PM on September 20


Huh, now that you point that out, it is odd. I'd conceptualized their perception as being of adults hanging out specifically with teenagers by preference in teen oriented places, and even as an adolescent I would have been very wary of any full adult who seemed to have those preferences. I love teenagers, but again, as an adult I do not want to socialize with them as peers.

For me, also, my parents were very controlling about what I did when they were paying attention to me. And most of the other adults I interacted with outside internet spaces were authority figures in their own right. It's absolutely possible that those kids just are having trouble conceptualizing social interactions with peers who are not same-age specifically because outside of the context of Internet fandom they have almost no avenues or opportunities in which to do so.

Which is fucked up. And given the level of control and parental structure imposed on my generation, it is likely to remain so.
posted by sciatrix at 3:02 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


So, a lot of folks here are dismissing (often rather smugly) the idea that there really is something unprecedented and new about the current moment, as reflected in the behavior of teenagers. Or, they're saying, "Every generation finds a new way to rebel, so chill out, there's nothing particularly interesting or concerning here."

To all of them, ESPECIALLY the folks who see this as conservative hysteria, I would say: go read Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities. Yeah, there's plenty of scholarship that has critiqued it, but it remains influential for a reason: it very persuasively argues that the rise of a new medium (the printing press) made possible a new form of social organization (the nation state).

Go read it, and then ask yourself if the "Olds" are being so hysterical or conservative / reactionary in suggesting that there is something new going on -- or if perhaps the internet and social media ARE creating a new and unprecedented form of social relations and organization, currently most visible in the altered behavior of teenagers.

I mean, it's a really interesting book, even if admittedly imperfect in many ways -- so maybe read it, regardless.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 3:41 PM on September 20 [5 favorites]


soooo you're saying we really are going to be getting fully automated luxury gay space communism soon, then?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:44 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


soooo you're saying we really are going to be getting fully automated luxury gay space communism soon, then?

A girl can certainly hope! Keeping my fingers crossed...
posted by mylittlepoppet at 3:55 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


My observation about driving is that in the past driving was the ticket to connection with friends and to exploration. Now driving is a distraction. Texting, Snap chatting, Facebook, game playing cannot (effectively) be done while driving. Better to avoid this learning this skill altogether. There are also more transportation options now, like Uber and willing parents, who have the time because of smaller families.
posted by haiku warrior at 4:29 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


then ask yourself if the "Olds" are being so hysterical or conservative / reactionary in suggesting that there is something new going on -- or if perhaps the internet and social media ARE creating a new and unprecedented form of social relations and organization, currently most visible in the altered behavior of teenagers.

but this is not exactly new, not even close. In fact, it's precisely what Marshall McLuhan was on about fifty or more years ago. Not just new media = new behaviors (most noticeable in the young), but new media coming at us an ever accelerating rate = acceleration in new behaviors (most noticeable in the young). But there's also the twist that this "out with the old, in with the new" is not just launching us faster and faster into the future (ready or not), but also turning a wheel of sorts that keeps reanimating older previously thought redundant modes and behaviors (ie: what made perfect sense in 1976 may be redundant forty-one years later, but don't be surprised to see it sneaking back into vogue a few more years down the line).

because if you go with the theory, that's how Communication works in a non-static environment (ie: the world we live in).
posted by philip-random at 4:34 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


so maybe read it, regardless.

Read it years ago (and, to be honest, cannot imagine how a person could think having read an aging standard sociology text would be a particularly distinctive accomplishment amongst a bunch of educated people).

People proclaiming the imminent transformation of all humankind come along about every five seconds these days. Humankind, so far, really hasn't changed that much on a fundamental level. Speaking of which, lamenting the habits of the Youth of Today is a practice going back nearly as far as we have records.
posted by praemunire at 5:52 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've read Imagined Communities, thanks. I've also finished grad school, so I think I'm through with the part of my life where I have to listen to random people who condescendingly assign me homework. And I'm not sure how it's relevant, since the article isn't arguing that social media or the internet is driving this change.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:32 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


Read it years ago (and, to be honest, cannot imagine how a person could think having read an aging standard sociology text would be a particularly distinctive accomplishment amongst a bunch of educated people).

You seem to be implying that I mentioned the book because I thought it was a "distinctive social accomplishment" to have read it. Let me clarify -- it's very easy reading. I've assigned it to undergrads with great success. It's not the kind of book you would name-check to show you were super super smart.

I mentioned it because I think it's relevant! I do think the book is a classic for a reason, and it has the potential to speak to the issue at hand here. Maybe someone who hasn't read it will find it interesting. Yep, McLuhan would also be relevant, but I find Anderson's argument more interesting because it's really talking about the emergence of a specific new paradigm of social relations, and I think it's possible that we're in the beginning of one of those phases, and I think that's really interesting. But you're right, the book is old. On the other hand, simply because it was published quite a while ago does not make it less worth the reading. I still assign Das Kapital too.

Yeah, I've read Imagined Communities, thanks. I've also finished grad school, so I think I'm through with the part of my life where I have to listen to random people who condescendingly assign me homework

Oh, gosh, I wasn't assigning you to read the book. I was suggesting it because I thought it was relevant to the discussion! So sorry for the misunderstanding.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 6:45 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Oh, gosh, I wasn't assigning you to read the book. I was suggesting it because I thought it was relevant to the discussion! So sorry for the misunderstanding.
Uh huh. I have some homework to assign you! Read the article to which the rest of us are responding. (I assume that you didn't read it. If you did, you've got some issues with reading comprehension.) Realize that most of us are responding to that, not to the general theory that "the internet and social media ARE creating a new and unprecedented form of social relations and organization, currently most visible in the altered behavior of teenagers." (In fact, the article raises and dismisses the idea that technology is driving this change in adolescent behavior: "[n]or could the use of smartphones and the Internet be entirely the cause, the report said, since the decline began before they were widely available.") Second, reread your comment and see if you can glean why the people you were addressing might find it condescending and irrelevant.

If you would like to discuss the proposition that the internet and social media are creating a new and unprecedented form of social relations and organization, currently most visible in the altered behavior of teenagers, that's swell. Make a FPP that links to an article that argues that proposition, and we can discuss it. But this is not that article, and the rest of us don't need your instruction to recognize it as garden-variety millennial (and post-millennial) bashing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:14 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


My 17 year old couldn't wait to get his license! He takes himself off to fencing lessons now, which is nice. And this weekend, he and his buds went and hung out at the mall. You'd have thought they invented it.
posted by Biblio at 8:02 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


People, people! We can all be wildly dysfunctional regardless of what books we read and what year we're born!
posted by h00py at 9:01 PM on September 20 [10 favorites]


The universal smartphone has made it possible to be an introvert without being a hermit, and for the first time the introverts are realising that they're actually the majority
posted by moorooka at 11:37 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


when i was a teenanger .. i spengt a lot of tim reading metafilter , drinking vodka , reading zizek , public transport , and binge-eating .. i blief the new mewlinnials , can avoid my mostakes , n make the gayest sober self-driving gender-neutral space-commune that gnows Hard n Sof Ware to be One this beak ass stone cawled plant Eart has EVER seen !!!
posted by LeviQayin at 11:37 PM on September 20


I don't think the article sells the notion that technological change isn't a driving factor for these changes. There's a lot of things that have changed since the mid-70s beyond the internet or social media, things like video games and movie rentals and cable TV that introduce more entertainment options to the home. As time goes on and more options enter the mix the change has become more pronounced, hitting an inflection point in the mid-2000s as social media and smart phones become major players.

I wouldn't dare peg this as the only reason, there's countless internal and external pressures that drive social change. Identifying sociological triggers and mapping cultural trends is notoriously spotty when it's current events you're looking at. Doubtless many an historian will study this era in great detail, to which I say: Hello, historians. We don't know why the hell any of this happened either, but like you we're full of theories about it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:17 AM on September 21 [2 favorites]


I'm 42 and I don't drive. Good to know I'm down with the kids.

Also, this thread reminds me of my cousin boasting that he'd raided my aunt's liquor cabinet while she was away and got so wasted he passed out. Turned out he'd drunk grenadine.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 5:12 AM on September 21 [5 favorites]


i blief the new mewlinnials

Long live the new mewlinnials.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:41 AM on September 21


Much of the point was trying to figure out the grown-up world. The idea of teens, rather than their parents, going somewhere that adults are being adults and demanding that they stop because "now minors are around!

IME, every time I've encountered this phenomenon it's been a 20-something who both identifies with and is speaking for the teens. The latter is understandable but the former is when I remind them that they're not kids either and it's creepy they think they are.

Also, I think this trend started a bit earlier or maybe I was ahead of my time being a total nerd with nerd friends in the late 90's/early 00's.
posted by asteria at 9:38 AM on September 21


I find this hard to reconcile with the kids ODing on heroin and opioids that I keep reading about, but maybe that's older teens? and certainly many adults. My adolescent wildness was related to an unhealthy family and the roots of the depression I still wrangle. Some of it at least. Driving was essential - no web, email, texting, instagram. There was 1 tv, no cable, and it was mostly not appealing(until you came home stoned). I do hear teens say they're staying in to bing-watch stuff.

If they aren't drinking a lot, using drugs, smoking cigarettes or getting pregnant, that's great. Pregnancy can wait, and the others are over-rated. The not working may have a lot to do with the Great Recession. In southern Maine, we're just now getting to an economy where employees are scarce, which encourages employers to hire teens. I learned a lot from part time jobs and it got me out of the house.
posted by theora55 at 2:20 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]


I find this hard to reconcile with the kids ODing on heroin and opioids that I keep reading about, but maybe that's older teens?
Yup. It's young adults and older adults. If I'm reading this correctly, heroin use actually went down among 12-17-year-olds at the same time that it went up among older people. In 2014 and 2015, 44% of overdose deaths were in adults ages 45 to 64.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:30 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]


I was thinking about this thread and I wonder how much of it is a trend overall across ages. My grandparents regularly held cocktail parties. I mean that was the Mad Men generation of taking a drive with your drink in one hand. I feel like it's not nearly as common as it was for adults to have drinking parties among my parents' and my generation. Among my peers, I know people who get together for a few beers or something, but very few "cocktail parties" in the old fashioned sense. Among the younger people I know, they still do the house party thing, but they seem to age out of that fairly quickly once they start having kids.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:08 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]


That's a neat comment, because after reading this piece was I was reminded of Dave Barry's recollection of his Greatest Generation parents who had more fun than Mad Men.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:35 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]


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