Teen Trends: Summer of 2014

Did you spend your summer Vamping or watching a full season of a TV show in one sitting? Or are you taking the time to record a video of yourself doing some crazy stunt to post on YouTube? Maybe these don’t occupy your time, but for many teens, this is what has captivated their summer.

Let’s breakdown some of the Current Trends in Teen Culture.

Vamping: A fun new way to say “I stayed up late.” Teens staying up into the wee hours of vampingthe night surfing the internet, texting or playing video games is not a new trend. But taking a picture of your self and tagging it with #Vamping is. Read more about teens, sleep deprivation and Vamping in this New York Times Article.

“Fire Challenge” -Teens Set themselves on Fire: Videos have been on YouTube for several years showing teens putting a flammable liquid on themselves and then lighting it. In the past I have seen this viral video stunt done in small amounts. A dab on the arm or hand that is quickly extinguished. This summer the Fire Challenge gained popularity with oitnbteens dousing themselves in accelerant and lighting it. Luckily, out of the teens I spoke with, more have seen these videos than have actually partaken in the stunt.

Binge Watching Netflix:When I asked a group of teens what recent trends they have seen, unanimously they mentioned watching Netflix. Not just watching a movie or a TV show here or there. But sitting down and watching full seasons of a TV show in a short amount of time. Often in one or two nights. The most popular show teens have been binge watching on Netflix, Orange is the New Black.

hookahHookah Smoking: Recent studies suggest 1 in 5 teens have smoked Hookah (essentially a water pipe that is used to smoke specially made tobacco) in the last year. I shared this statistic with a group of teens and asked them if it sounded accurate. They responded with the following statements:

  • Everyone around here does it all the time! It’s like a hobby for some teens.”
  • It is very popular in my area. Just about everyone does it.”
  • “I have seen a lot of people in the area use Hookah pens. According to my knowledge they use it because it is water vapor and not real smoke yet it still contains nicotine/tobacco products. They also use it since it is cheap.”

The Positive: When I read articles that are labeled “Dangerous New Teen Trend,” or “Parents Be Aware of the Crazy Stuff your Teen is Doing,” I get upset. The reason being, articles like these lead us to be fearful for our teens and think they are all on some crazy mission to destroy themselves. I know that is not the case.

That is why I want to share with you some of the great things teens have been up to this summer. I asked the same group of teens what trends they were seeing this summer and here are some of the positive things they shared with me:

  • Engaging in new sports such as Rugby.
  • Taking summer school or college courses to get ahead.
  • Working a summer job.
  • Hanging out with their friends.
  • Going to the beach.
  • Going on trips with family.

The Ice Bucket Challenge: Does anyone remember back in April and May when teens were engaging in the “Cold Water Challenge?” They were jumping into bodies of cold Ice Bucket Challengewater and challenging their friends to do the same or donate to a charity. At the time there were several media stories talking about the dangers of the Cold Water Challenge and encouraging teens not to do it.

Fast forward a couple months, move from jumping in a lake to pouring ice water on your head and add in a single charity and you have the biggest trend not just for teens but everyone. My Facebook news feed and my favorite late night talk shows are full of videos of people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to support ALS. Here is what teens have to say about the challenge:

  • Everyone in my town has been doing it, I have never seen anything like this before it is crazy. I thinks it has its drawbacks but it is great for the awareness of the disease.
  • I haven’t done it, but its been done by some of the senior citizens in our community and they challenged others I think it’s a fun safe challenge compared to others.
  • I’ve done it and also donated. I think it’s a trending challenge for a great cause, but many, including myself, are forgetting to spread awareness.”
  • I have done it and donated and I think it is amazing!! It’s getting people to know the cause and be aware of it!
  • I have done it… Twice and so have my friends. I haven’t donated yet. But I will try my best to donate at least $50 if possible. I think of it being a safer challenge/ dare rather than the fire or cinnamon challenges. Especially since it is for a good cause.
  • I think the Ice Bucket Challenge is a really fun, creative, and positive way to send a message to many people about ALS. You’re not getting hurt, it’s a positive message, and it’s fun! It makes people want to do it, and it gets a lot of people to donate, but it also spreads the message as well.

Leave a comment and let me know what Teen Trends have you seen gain popularity this summer?

Teen Culture Articles of Interest vol. 4

For those looking for some weekend reading or articles of interest to read at work instead of working, here are two articles related to Teens that I have enjoyed recently.  And a plug for a new resource for parents.

  • The Underchallenged ‘Lazy Teenager’ I hear people frequently refer to teens as “lazy.” They talk about how teens roll their eyes at being asked to complete a task and how they spend hours glued to a computer, TV or cell phone screen. In this article psychologist Dr. Price addresses why teens may be lazy and what parents might be doing that is contributing to their teens laziness.josh shipp
  • New Resource Alert! Podcast: Parental Guidance with Josh Shipp. I heard Josh Shipp speak to a large group of teens several years ago and was impressed with his ability to connect and motivate teens today. Since then, Josh has been featured on multiple news channels, several TV’s shows, written a couple of books, works with parents and educators and is considered a teen expert by many. I am excited to check out his new podcast that he just released on iTunes. Why don’t you check it out with me!

Resources for Understanding Teens

This week I am speaking to a group and they asked if I could provide a few resources around teens for their staff. Here is the not-to-overwhelming-list I put together for them of websites, books and blogs I frequent. Enjoy!

Websites:

  • Center for Parent and Youth Understanding: Helping parents, youth workers, educators, pastors and others understand and reach today’s youth culture. www.cpyu.org
  • Common Sense Media: dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. www.commonsensemedia.org
  • Huffington Post Teen: Great articles written by teens sharing their thoughts and perspectives on life. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/teen/
  • Connect with Kids: Videos, youth telling their stories, expert advice and programs to improve youth behavior. www.connectwithkids.com
  • Parent Further: A Search Institute resource for families. http://www.parentfurther.com/

Books:

  • Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers, by Chap Clark
  • Sticky Faith, by Dr. Kara E. Powell & Dr. Chap Clark
  • Understanding Your Young Teen: Practical Wisdom for Parents, by Mark Oestreicher
  • A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Teenage Brains: Why they Act the Way They Do, By Mark Oesreicher (He also wrote/co-wrote: A parent’s guide to Understanding Teenage Girls, Teenage Guys, Sex & Dating and Social Media)

Blogs:

Dave Rozman
http://daverozman.com
Twitter: @daverozman

Oh Crap: The Fears of Teens Today

Have you ever seen a teen hesitate to do something you knew they were good at? Paint a picture, participate in a sport, speak in front of a group, be a leader? More than likely they hesitate because there is a fear holding them back.

I would bet very few of us, if any, made it through our teen years without some fears deterring us from participating in an activity or working to accomplish a goal. I remember being in class and not completing an assignment because I was afraid I would get it wrong. Logically, I thought it was easier to just not do the assignment than to get it wrong. I even recall deciding not to attend certain events in college, out of fear I wouldn’t fit in.

In my previous post I talked about the hopes and dreams teens have today. When asked, teens expressed dreams of graduating high school and making a difference in the world. With that same group of teens, I also asked them what fears they have.

I learned teens today have a lot of fears. In fact when I asked about their hopes and fears, they responded with considerably more fears. This was true in both the sheer number of responses, and also the diversity of responses.

This did not surprise me too much, as the teenage years are filled with change. The world around them is changing as they grow up and gain more responsibility. Their bodies are changing. Their brain is allowing them to digest the world in ways they previously have not been able to. Many adults experience fear in the midst of change, so it is no surprise to learn teens are filled with fears and anxiety.

scared teenHere are some fears teens have today:

  • Not being good enough (in their own eyes & their parents eyes) or that they will fail
  • That they will be forgotten, not noticed or alone
  • That they will not do well in high school or college
  • That they will not achieve their dreams or accomplish their goals in life
  • Fear of death
  • Stuck doing something they do not enjoy
  • That college will be totally different from their expectations, and that it will be difficult
  • How society will view them, and what others will say and think about them
  • That they are a waste of space and cannot do or achieve anything in life

As I read these now, they make me sad. I can remember having some of those exact feelings as a teen and young adult. I had my whole life in front of me. It was exhilarating and scary all at the same time, and I was still trying to figure out how to navigate it. To top it off, everyone expected that I would be successful and do great things. At times I believed this and at other times I didn’t.

We need to realize that while teens may seem relaxed and carefree at times, there are very real fears that exist within them. I have witnessed guys graduating from high school go from goofing around and playing basketball one minute, to having a blank stare on their faces as they realized their fears about their uncertain future.

Parent and Youth Worker Tips:

  • Ask them what their fears are and don’t criticize or belittle their responses. As adults we may know the fear is irrational, but it is very real to them and the world as they see it.
  • Provide them opportunities to experience new things, especially as young teens. We often fear the unknown. If we provide opportunities and experiences in a safe group setting, this may help to decrease their anxiety of the unknown.
  • Share the fears you had as a teen. Talk about how you overcame those fears, or what opportunities you missed out on because you let your fear control you.
  • Focus on their hopes and dreams and help them to be action-oriented in striving towards their goals. It is good to acknowledge the fears but we don’t want to dwell in them.

Teens today need people in their lives rooting for them, supporting them and cheering them on. Not crushing their hopes and dreams. Allow your teen(s) dream big and help them overcome their fears on the way to achieving their dreams.

Oh Joy: The Hopes and Dreams of Teens Today

What do you see when you look at a teenager? Do you see a goofy kid lacking responsibility? Or do you see an aspiring young adult who wants to change the world? Or maybe something else?

Often, we see an element of the first. We witness a young person navigating their way through uncertain times – not a kid, but definitely not an adult.

Often this emerging, vulnerable person has a lot of passion! Although it may be for something seemingly materialistic, like the latest movie or a pair of shoes.

hopeful teenHowever, my experiences have shown me there is more to teens than this. I believe they have untapped passion. They have dreams and goals for their life, even if they have never spoken them out loud before. They are there, sometimes deep down inside.

I remember as a teen I dreamed of hitting the winning shot in the championship basketball game. I had goals to become a police officer, to serve others and help those in need. I had hopes of just fitting in. If we think back to our teen years, the majority of us had hopes, dreams and goals too.

Knowing someone’s hopes and dreams can tell you a lot about that person. I have been blown away by some of the deep thoughts teens and friends have shared when I’ve taken the time to ask about their hopes, and listen to their answers. I still remember a friend who told me about his dream to open up a sock store in the mall. It was a weird idea, but he was passionate about it.

If you work with teens or have teens, I encourage you to ask them what their hopes and dreams are. Like any relationship, having a positive bond established will contribute to the quality and depth of the conversation.

I recently asked a group of teens what their hopes and dreams were. Here are some of their responses:

  • To achieve greatness
  • To be a role model for younger kids
  • To be successful
  • To be happy, achieve my dreams and be stress free
  • To graduate high school and go to college
  • To be happy in my career, what ever it ends up being
  • To be successful in college
  • To fit in and be the best I can be
  • To choose the right path
  • To help make a difference in the world
  • To be a teacher and impact future students lives

Many of the teens I spoke to had a level of uncertainty about what exactly they wanted to do or be when they got older, but they did know they wanted to be successful. They defined success as making a difference, being happy and persevering when dealing with challenging situations or failure. None of them defined success as being rich.

Parent and Youth Worker Tips:

  • As you build a relationship and get to know your teens, take time to ask them what their hopes and dreams are. You can do this in a small group setting or one on one. If they don’t know that is ok. They may be embarrassed to say, or may have trouble articulating their thoughts. In a small group setting, writing, drawing or creating a collage out of magazine clippings can be a meaningful way for them to express their passion.
  • Share what your hopes and dreams were as a teen with them, no mater how silly or far-fetched. If you did not achieve those dreams, or perhaps went down another path, take time to explain that process. Teens will likely be comforted to hear how common it is to change course. Many teens fear their current dreams will not be satisfying in the long run. If you accomplished your dreams share with them how you did it. It can be helpful for teens to hear what steps you took, failures you experienced along the way, and how you overcame adversity.
  • Make a point to practice sensitivity with teens, and do not laugh or poke fun at their hopes and dreams.
  • Encourage them to pursue their dreams and to embrace their passions. My parents knew of mine and my brothers dreams of becoming police officers and connected us with a local law enforcement explorers program. Find opportunities to explore, experience and dive into their passions and dreams.

The next post in this series will focus on the fears teens experience today. Stay tuned!

Teen Culture Articles of Interest vol. 3

Occasionally I find myself busy, overwhelmed and not enough time to blog. Anyone ever have those feelings? If not let me know, I have a garage door my wife has wanted me to paint for over a year.

Until I have time to take a deep dive into writing a few posts, here are four articles I have read lately that are related to teens and teen culture. Enjoy and please share in the comments what recent articles or research related to teens today you have been diving into.

Move Over Avon Lady, the Tweens Are Here

I know my wife, along with most women I know, enjoy going to Thirty-one, Norwex or Stella & Dot parties where they get to socialize with their girlfriends and buy products from a friend who is sales rep for the company. We may or may not have hosted several of these parties at our own home. Now Willa, who sells skin care product for young girls, has turned to the direct sale model and is enlisting young teens as sales reps. This (great?) concept plays into the idea that youth are more likely to make a purchase based off a peer recommendation and it is encouraging youth to be entrepreneurs. Will other companies follow suit?

‘Fancy’ that! Meet your song-of-summer contenders

izzyWe all have that one song that takes you back to relaxing days hanging with your high school buddies during summer break. “Regulate”, “Paradise City” and  “All Star” are just a few I remember fondly. Here is a list of early contenders for songs that you are bound to hear overplayed and teens singing along to this summer. Side note: Here is a great list of the top 10 summer songs for each year between 1985-2013. I know you will spend the rest of your day drifting down memory lane listening to each summer. You’re welcome.

Understanding Facebook’s Lost Generation of Teens: The Social Network’s Struggle to Woo Kids isn’t Because it’s Also Their Parents’ Favorite Social Network

Because I get asked a question around teens views on Facebook at every presentation I do, I wanted to include this article which gives great insight into the topic. It is a long read but packed with teen perspective, which I appreciate. A couple of things that stood out to me were, the first app teens turn to on their phones are often singular function apps. And that teens are not necessarily leaving Facebook, they are just indifferent.

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its 2013 findings from the The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) which monitors health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults. Key findings include:

  • Nationwide, 41% of students who had driven a vehicle during the past 30 days reported texting or emailing while driving.
  • Cigarette smoking rates have dropped to the lowest levels since the YRBS began in 1991, from 27.5% to 15.7%
  • 25% of teens participated in physical fights in 2013, decreasing from 43% in 1991.

Finish this Sentence. Teens Today Are…..

Lazy, selfish, narcissistic, entitled. These words have angered me in recent years. Why? Because adults have used these words to describe teens today and I don’t feel they are accurate.

I will admit that teens can and do have these traits. But I have also met and interacted with hundreds of teens that are passionate, care for others, are focused and are having positive impacts on the world around them.

I decided to compare what adults thought about teens today with what teens think about their generation. I asked each group to share with me words or phrases that they thought described teens today. Here is what they told me.

How adults described teens today: 

adults describe teensThe five most common words used by adults to describe teens were: Lazy, Creative, Entitled, Disrespectful and Connected.

I was not surprised that the majority of the words were negative, but was pleased to see some adults responded with positive words such as creative and bright.

How Teens described their generation:

20140612-190653-68813708.jpg

 

The most common words teens used to describe themselves and their peers were: Confused, Technology Dependent, Socially Connected, Open Minded and Creative.

One interesting note was how teens felt the need to expand and explain their descriptive words. Almost like they were in a defensive posture just from me asking them the question.

Here is one example. One teen used the word focused to describe teens today. Then they went on by saying that if there is something a teen really wants or a goal they have, they are focused on achieving that goal.

Several teens were also quick to point out that it is hard to describe all teens with just a few words or phrases. They seemed to recognize that their were some negative stereotypes of teens today but they felt strong that those should not define all teen. I found it interesting that no adults made the same point.

My point.

My intent was to do this as a fun experiment to see the differences between how adults and teens describe teens today. I am sure we could do this with previous and future generations and get similar results of positive and negative descriptions.

I do want to challenge those adults that work and interact with teens today to not assume that all teens fit into one category or description. Imagine if an adult did that to you when you were a teen? I am guessing we all had moments we are not so proud of when we were teens that could have caused us to be labeled disrespectful, lazy, or a troublemaker.

In my experience, the more we approach teens as if they are lazy or disrespectful, the more likely they are going to act that way.

I want to encourage you to treat them as if they are amazing, talented, creative teens with something to offer. You might be surprised that they fulfill those expectations.

What are Teens Plans for the Summer?

That last school bells are ringing and that means one thing for teens. Summer is finally here. After spending nine months in classrooms learning, growing and hopefully maturing, teens get 2-3 months off. I am sure they are going to use that time to reflect on all the amazing things they learned and prepare themselves for the coming school year. Heck maybe they will even change the world.

summer and teensOk, maybe that is not how they plan to spend their summer. We can dream right?

I was curious what teens will actually be doing during their summer break, so I asked a group of teens the following questions. What they were most looking forward to about summer and what were their plans? Here are their responses:

  • “I am looking forward to hanging out with family and friends.
  • “Going to the Beach!”
  • “I am really excited about starting my first Job!” Several teens mentioned they were looking forward to working this summer both for the experience and making some spending cash.
  • “I am looking forward to hanging out with friends and making new memories.”
  • “I am looking forward to some camps I am attending.”
  • “Camping, beach, 4th of July, and also some of my friends and I are gonna go on a road trip out-of-state! I’m getting fired up just thinking about it.”
  • “I am looking forward to meeting new people and volunteer opportunities.”
  • “Looking forward to the beach( a lot of beach!) and a possible sky diving trip ! And honestly , I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to read a book that I want to read!”
  • “Getting Ready to start College.”

Sounds like a pretty awesome summer. I would go back to school in a heartbeat if I could have a summer vacation again. I wonder if my boss will let me take the next three months off. I want to go to the beach, hang with friends and go to camps too.

How are your teens planning on spending the summer?

Teens, Fitting Rooms and Social Media

Why do teens act differently on social media than they do in real life? I bet that is a question many parents wish they could answer.

While attending a recent teen culture workshop facilitated by Walt Mueller, president of the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding, he made a great analogy. He stated that social media is an identity fitting room for teens. It allows them to fabricate themselves and test out different persona’s as they search to figure out who they are.

Using the currency of social media (Likes, Favorites, Re-blogs, Re-tweets etc.) they can obtain quick feedback on the identity they are trying to create. If they get a lot of likes, they may continue down that path. Too few likes they may re-adjust the identity they are putting out in the social media world for others to see.

tiinkkWhat was fascinating about this analogy is just the day before I was reading about a new app called Tiinkk. This app allows you to crowdsource opinions from others related to what outfits you should wear to what you should buy.

Here is how it works. A teen goes shopping for a new outfit. They try on several different shirts and take selfie’s (of course) wearing each one in the fitting room. They post the pictures to the Tiinkk app and set a timer in the app. Other users can view the pictures of the teen in the various shirts and vote for which one they think the user should purchase. After the timer has expired the teen can see the opinions of the other users and use that feedback to make their purchase.

It truly is an example of teens using social media as their identity fitting room.

Positive Teen Trends in 2014

Back in January I wrote about my frustration with the media always focusing on negative stories about teens. I shared my desire to see more Positive Teen Trends and Positive Stories about teens in 2014.Go back and read that post, Positive Teen Trends for 2014, if you missed it.

Since then I have been working my tail off managing a teen leadership conference (called National Keystone Conference) for the organization I work for. Hence why I have not posted much since. I wanted to take a moment and share with you some of the highlights of this event and the amazing things teens are doing.

Here is a brief overview:

  • 1500 teens from around the world gathered to spend 3 days in sunny California not to go to the beach but to learn how to be leaders and address issues facing teens today.
  • They were busy from 8am-11pm attending hearing from keynote speakers and experts on issues facing teens, participating in small group breakout sessions to learn practical skills, they went on college tours, career experiences and participated in service projects.
  • A small group of teens actually helped design and plan the whole conference over the last year. Then they got on stage and spoke in front of 1500 of their peers.
  • These teens generated a social media reach of 3.5 million.
  • They left with tangible plans on how they were going to Take Action against issues facing teens such as drugs & alcohol, violence, bullying, teen suicide & self-harm and stereotyping.
  • They socialized, networked and worked together with peers they had never met before and found they had a lot in common. I did NOT see them sitting around on their phones the whole time.
  • A group of teens served as conference photographers, bloggers and reporters.
  • They were challenged by topics of Empowerment, Perseverance, Possibility and Action in their own life and for their community.

I could go on forever about this event as it is one of my favorite events that I get to participate in each year. If you want to see some highlights and read stories written by the teens you can check them out on our website myclubmylife.com.

Just know this. There are a lot of teens who are making good choices and taking steps to grow as individuals and at the same time have a positive impact others. We can be blessed to know that.