Teenagers! What do we know about them? They love sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, right? Not according to recent patterns in the biennially issued Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This federal survey has shown that people between the ages of 15-18 have been engaging less in dangerous behavior such as drugs, sex, vandalism, and fighting. Given this, a series of questions must be asked regarding the driving force behind these newfound statistics. Is technology educating the youth into a tamer, wiser generation? Is pop culture shifting its secular rhetoric to something with less depravity? Or, is it just good, old-fashioned parenting?
Some people argue that teenagers today are wiser than any other generation in the past, and that’s going to continue being the case as long as technology keeps progressing. For a surprisingly long time in America (primarily the 1950’s-70’s) it was considered normal to use alcohol as a makeshift remedy. From casually sipping with your boss at the office to stopping a crying baby, alcohol was a staple in American life. Nowadays, however, people have technology and informative media to enlighten them to the neurological and physical damages alcohol can cause. Along with smoking and sex, the hazards of vice have been well recorded nationally, making the masses more knowledgeable.
Additionally, technology has played its hand in these declines due to its ability to link communities. By offering people alternative activities to engage in, such as movies, concerts, and social gatherings, teenagers are becoming intoxicated by geniality in lieu of alcohol. But that isn’t to say teens aren’t still indulging in troublesome pastimes. Teenagers today are primarily pharmaceutical pumped zombies, not disheveled drunks that fit into society easily.
Today the most widely used narcotics amongst teens are Adderall and Xanax, each of which is used as medications for ADHD and anxiety respectively. However, when abused, these medications can be dangerous. With pop culture stars like Demi Lovato and Chester Bennington (the latter committed suicide last year after a lifetime of battling depression) being so open about coping with mental struggles and drug abuse, some musicians and public figures are ceasing to glorify or endorse these drugs. Despite this, they remain an issue in today’s world.
Anxiety has been rising steadily alongside the overuse of technology, which could be used to blame for the rise in popularity of these drugs. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have all influenced our anxiety as a whole. The primary side effect of these apps is comparing your life to someone else’s, hence desiring a life depicted on social media as the “perfect life.” When one does this, it causes discontentment, lust, and anxiety. Therefore, these apps could be responsible for the mental state of youth today and why prescription medications are the most popular legal drugs for abuse. With the fact that sex, smoking, and alcohol are on the decline, there may be a glimmer of hope. But, what are the side effects of what teenagers are doing now? Only time will tell.
by Hank Gowdey