Certainly being an adolescent can be quite challenging. Some people would even go as far to say that this generation has it tougher than ANY other. Over the past couple of days a particular thought keeps running through my mind when it comes to today’s youth. It is a paradox of sorts. Our children are exposed to more adult issues at too young of an age, yet they act like adolescents far beyond age 18.
What do I mean by adult issues? There are a ton of them, but I will only highlight a couple that bother me the most.
1. Pornography-Porn is so readily available today on the computer, ipad, smart phone, etc… No longer do people who want to watch porn have to go to the back of a video store or to an adult xxx shop. There are a huge number of adolescents who are watching porn on a regular basis. Certainly adolescent boys have typically been exposed to porn in the past, but it was usually a Playboy magazine that they got a hold of and looked at for a short time once in a while. Young kids (late elementary and middle school) are watching some very graphic stuff. Ick. There aren’t any parents I know that would allow their kids to watch porn–not saying that. But, our society certainly is jamming it down the throats of young people without many parents knowing it is going on in their home.
2. Exposure to violence–There are extremely violent video games that parents are allowing their kids to play for hours a day. Add in the PG-13 & R rated movies. And, don’t forget the violent TV shows that are on during primetime viewing hours. Countless murders, rapes, beatings, blood and gore. Endless hours of it. In the past it seemed like the only way a youth became aware of this type of violence was if they were actually involved in it during a war or living a hard life in a rough neighborhood. Not so today.
We are pushing all of this, and more, on underdeveloped brains and emotionally immature youth. What will be the lasting impact on them? Us?
Then on another issue the pendulum swings the other way where we expect less than the chronological age of our youth. Many adolescents have less responsibility than ever.
1. As a matter of fact the many psychologists now consider age 25 the end of adolescence. The main reasoning behind that all focuses on brain development, which lasts a lot longer than 18. Many grandparents of these children had full time jobs/careers by age 20 and many were married. Their brains were not fully developed, but most handled that responsibility just fine. Hmmm….
2. A record number of young adults are living at home with their parents today. About 1 in 3 adults under 31 are living at home. Certainly a lot of that has to do with the economy, but not all of it. Marriage is being delayed as well. However, it is also due to the fact that many young adults have been overindulged by their families. Families don’t expect their kids to do many chores. Children have become too much of the focus in the family with helicoptering parents, crazy sports schedules and constantly adding to kids closets, toy chests and electronics with excessive material goods. This leads to young adults who expect to have it all because they know nothing different. If they can’t have it on their own, they move in with their parents so they can.
Are we enabling our youth today to be an adolescent longer?
Many parents expect their kids “can handle” all sorts mature things (violence, sexual content) in their everyday life. Yet, these same parents don’t expect their child to unload the dishwasher or help with laundry because they aren’t ready for it. I simply don’t get it.