There are so many factors they have to worry about that didn't seem to be an issue when I was growing up — everything from choosing a college to sports, dating, social media and sex — it's no wonder so many kids are choosing online school, seeing therapists, having anxiety or panic disorders, on medication or simply just checking out socially.
Dating, then and now: Back then, a guy could ask a girl out and it could be just that: a date. And if it worked out, great. You could go on another date. Or if it didn't work out, you didn't have to go out again, and it wouldn't be a big deal. Now it seems no one just "dates." Kids are hooking up all the time with random people or you're immediately a couple. There is no going out with different people to see if personalities mesh, if you have things in common or if you genuinely like each other. It seems no one spends time getting to really know a person.
Sports, then and now: Then, you could play as many sports as you wanted, for fun! Now, you have to pick the sport you want to focus on, and train, train, train like a pro-athlete in hopes of getting that full-ride scholarship to the Division I school of your dreams. There is no more fun in sports. It's stressful and competitive and oftentimes heartbreaking for those who don't make the cut.
College, then and now: Then, I took my ACT while hung over one Saturday morning and chose my college based on where my best friend wanted to go. Admittedly, it might not have been the best idea, but I got my Journalism degree, had a blast and it all worked out. Now, kids have to study for months in advance for the ACT and SAT tests, tour colleges to decide which one is right and stress for more than a year on their decision. In retrospect, my way caused little concern and the end result is the same: a college degree.
Social Media, then and now: Then, I just thank God we didn't have any social media options because there would be YouTube videos of me flashing crowds from a balcony off the Whitehall Hotel in Daytona. Now, kids can't have any fun because it will ruin their lives.
Teens today are living in a world where they're constantly being monitored and pressured to be on their best behavior, and they're always being watched: by their friends, their enemies, their parents, their teachers, their coaches and even by future employers. They have so much stress put upon them at such a young age, it's no wonder young adults experience burnout so early in their lives. It's our job as their parents to understand that although the teen years are a great time, it's also a very emotional and stressful time for our children. I'm trying to be more aware of this as I'm raising my three teens.
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