Who thinks the news portrays all teenagers as bad people?

The news is always talking about sexting, where teenagers send naked pictures of themselves on their phone to others. They said your teen could be doing it right now. Now my parents took my phone to see if i’ve been doing it and I think it’s very biased. This makes me mad because 1) They’re generalizing that ALL teenagers do this and 2) they say nothing about adults doing it, just teenagers. They also talk about teenagers smoking weed and doing other drugs and also say your teen could be doing it whenever they go out with friends. It just makes me really upset that the news tries to make out all teenagers as terrible people who always do things they aren’t supposed to and now my parents think that I’m doing every single thing that the news accuses teenagers of doing.

I agree. There are certainly a lot of stories about &quot:unruly teens&quot: and teens made out to be pathologically irresponsible. Adults are often the ones responsible for giving teens unclear or generally stupid messages about all kinds of things. One need only look to certain contemporary conservative groups to see that they repeat and sometimes even create the media hysteria: e.g., the misleading messages they give teens about, say, sex (&quot:Sex outside marriage is bad, abnormal, unhealthy: Masturbating is unhealthy and abnormal and should make you feel guilty: Teens can’t be trusted with information about sex because it’ll turn them into wild sex fiends: Teens can’t be told about homosexuality because it’ll turn them gay: Single teen moms are the plague of the nation and don’t deserve welfare funding: Teens generally can’t be trusted at all and don’t know any better&quot:). Essentially, we refuse to give teens the information they need to make healthy DECISIONS and protect themselves. (For a funny piece on what driver’s ed would look like if we taught it in the same way we currently teach kids about sex, see here: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2008/2/22kleid.html ).

I can give you another example. I’m a former college freshman English instructor and have met and taught (and learned from) so many promising teens. Teens absorb and internalize media and religious messages about their own irresponsibility even if they honestly feel that they themselves try hard to be responsible, even if they work two jobs while attending college, even if they’re first-generation college students, even if they grew up having to take care of their younger siblings because one or both of their parents were drunks and wouldn’t keep food in the house. When discussing serious social issues, you’ll often hear teens regurgitate the party line: &quot:Well, ‘kids today’ just watch too much TV. ‘Kids today’ are going to make the world go down the toilet.&quot: I would ask, &quot:Exactly which ‘kids today’ are you referring to?&quot: Adults have said this same thing about every new generation for centuries as they lament the progress of, say, women and blacks and laws implementing social services. I remind my students of this. And I remind them that they, in fact, are doing pretty well: they’re literate, they’re less hateful than past generations, they’re attending college, they’re involved in extracurricular activities. America’s legal drinking age was 18 for quite some time and, no, the earth didn’t collapse when 18-year-olds drank. Teens WOULD be having healthier sex if they were taught (1) that it’s normal: (2) that they should not feel ashamed for talking about it and asking honest questions: (3) that they must respect themselves first and feel right about it and be with the right partner. And there are various reasons teens might lose motivation, the same ones that would cause adults to lose motivation: poverty, drugs, parents who don’t care, etc.

I was a responsible teen. I don’t feel one bit strange about saying it because it’s true. There are ways to balance work and play, and I think a lot of teens are successful at doing so.

Anyway, excellent question. Many teens today do great work getting involved in volunteering and social activism. It’s great to hear you thinking critically about the messages you experience in society.

I’d also urge you to examine the gender angle of the &quot:sexting&quot: story and how it’s related to the pathologizing and ostracizing of women who are comfortable with and feel an ownership over their own bodies, and how it’s related to, say, abortion (who owns one’s own body, anyway)? Our society is much more possessive over women’s bodies than men’s. Also, statutory rape laws (which affect many teenagers) definitely need to be changed.

If you use the media as your means of understanding society, you’re in for a huge letdown. I’m 76 years old and I believe that the youth of to-day are fine, upstanding people. They have more smarts, more morals and more respect for Mother Earth than my generation. Hold your head high because you earned it.

Teenagers are still the responsibility of the parents until Adult age. So they have the right to check no matter how you feel its their job.You will have that problem one day. Keep it real.

Yes that is true not all or doing but if you compare by age the teen years have the highest percent for these things .

Not me, I think that characterization is an over generalization of the situation.

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