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2015 or 1965? Teenagers Throughout the Years

Your life is hard, we get it. But if it makes you feel any better, the angst has been real for teenagers since the beginning of time. While you may listen to Arctic Monkeys now instead of the Beatles, TIME Magazine shows a side-by-side comparison of what it’s like to be a teenager today versus what it was like in 1965. Never has the phrase “some things just don’t change” been more fitting.

The focus of the article was to determine whether it really is harder to be a teenager today than it was 50 years ago. In researching for his article “The American Teenager in 2015,” Victor Luckerson went straight to the heart of the issue and asked a group of teenagers what they thought.

Teenagers today feel that they are more accountable for their actions because they document some of their not-so-bright ideas through social media. This, in turn, has led teenagers to make fewer bad decisions. But what’s the fun of being a teenager if you can’t make stupid mistakes? The stakes are higher today than they were in ’65. You can’t just go around secretly tickling people’s feet anymore… Oh wait.

Photo courtesy of Maurizio Pesce / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Maurizio Pesce / Flickr

From using electronic cigarettes rather than regular tobacco cigarettes to posting 250-second long Snapchat stories, the use of technology has permeated almost all aspects of teenagers’ lives today.

“[Teenagers are] still looking for ways to assert their individual identities, but it might happen on Snapchat instead of in the class yearbook," Luckerson writes. You have to agree with him when you upload at least three Gassongrams per semester.

In the past 50 years we’ve developed the hookup culture, which, as most of us know, is alive and well at BC. Women have become much more independent and no longer look to marriage as their only means for gaining social status or financial prosperity.

“Nowadays women can go to college and make a living on their own and be very independent," says eighteen-year-old cheerleader Emma Baker. "The pressure to get married is a whole lot less.”

Sexuality in general has seemed to become a looser topic. Same-sex relationships are a lot less of a big deal than they were in the ‘60s or than they have been ever since. Mostly, they are treated with indifference, as the “you do you” mentality reigns free throughout the millennial generation.

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

“[F]igures from the Centers for Disease Control show that the percentage of sexually active high schoolers dropped from 54% to 47% between 1991 and 2011," Luckerson wrote.

Nonetheless, the teenagers interviewed can attest to the fact that some things haven’t changed—among them, race relations within our society. One student surveyed in the article expresses how she feels discriminated against for the color of her skin. In light of recent events such as the Ferguson case and other instances of race-based violence, it is unfortunate to acknowledge that this in particular hasn’t changed. But the movement against it and the awareness is stronger than it was in 1965.

All in all, it’s the same old drama. Boys and girls alike spice up their lives through whatever means they have available to them. Today, technology plays a leading role, and teenage rebellion has joined the bandwagon, completely altering the notion of sex, drugs and alcohol from what it was in 1965. Technology may be distracting—or restraining—us from continuing the previously popular teenage lifestyle, but regardless, the teenage dream at its core is alive and well.

The question of what future teenagers can expect is hard to answer. However, based on previous experience, they can expect that it will be completely different from anything their parents and grandparents went through, but in a way that is shockingly similar.

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