Characteristics of The 21st Century Teen

There is a huge gap of understanding created by technology between late 20th teens and 21st century teenagers. Parents, teachers and adults alike do not understand the new age teenagers, or the world they live in as it revolves in an alarming rate.

It appears that teenagers today value leisure time over work and place a premium on rewards such as higher salaries and status. “I’d rather give up my kidney than my phone” said a fourteen year old when asked if she could live 24 hrs without her mobile phone.

A trip down the road to buy some groceries is now a good enough reason to change trousers or apply lip gloss. You’re suddenly that enemy outsider, scrambling for whatever crumbs you can find to pick up from the uncanniest places which would give you an insight to this stranger that is your child.

Not only is all of this new to you, it is also happening in almost every other home in the world where there are teenagers. Join us as we take a look at some of the characteristics of the 21st century teenager and their adoption to technological advances or the state of interaction among young adults. 

A Changing Brain

Tons of scientific research have proven that the human brain under goes some changes between the ages of fifteen and twenty five; changes which can be held accountable for the self-consciousness, mood swings, risk-taking, impulsive behavior, over-sensitivity, and irresponsible behavior. Their thought process and interpretation of things are a bit skewed. These changes put them on the defensive, resulting to a fight or flight attitude.

Fear of Missing Out

Teenagers can be brutal to those who don’t belong to the ‘IT’ crowd. We all remember the way things were when we were in secondary school. The name-calling, the cliques, the drama and the taunts. It is this search for acceptance or rather the “Fear Of Missing Out” – FOMO, that pushes most teenagers to pick habits or fall into the peer pressure trap. 

As they are in this transitional stage between childhood and adulthood, their individuality and personality is coming into sharper focus as well. So stop forcing your own fashion tastes on them. As long as it is decent, let them have a say in their choice of clothes, places to visit and activities to do. By doing so, you’re helping them to become more independent, responsible and confident, as opposed to them seeking help and guidance for every little thing. READ: [How To Know a 21st Century Mum]

Tip: Be understanding and less judgmental so that they can trust you to get a glimpse into their lives outside home, and you can be their friend and moral-compass.

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Tech Savvy

In previous decades, teenagers passed time by reading fiction novels, visiting each other or listening to their Walkman. Today’s teenager is almost never seen without a phone or an ear piece. They do homework on their computers and submit assignments online. They stay glued to devices thanks to social media.

Teenagers are the first to sample any new media. Video calls, texting, music, games and apps make you less and less important to your kids. Modern technology has bridged the global digital divide. With internet access, our teenagers have access to anybody – both positive and negative influences – anywhere in the world. 21st century teens in particular, are technologically savvy. They know sites you’ve never heard of, apps you never dreamed of, and hacks you never imagined. 

Teens have access to entertaining and intellectual sites and just as easily as they can find pornography. They hear about new inventions before you do and suddenly that PlayStation or iPhone you struggled to buy is not good enough.  The internet and modern communication technology are what create/fuel the headache-inducing factor that our teenagers cannot get enough of – pop culture. READ: [Teaching Teenagers Love in a Digital Age].

Characteristics of The 21st Century Teen
Pop Culture

Popular culture is what makes our teens decide that a Mohawk teamed with a pair of Converse shoes and a fully buttoned shirt is ‘cool’. It includes knowing the latest songs, watching newly released movies, using popular slangs or hashtags effortlessly in conversations. If you do not know that teenagers have their own language then you either do not have a teenager or you are out of touch with your teenager. Find out what slangs are harmless or not.

Teenagers are constantly in search for an identity, they want to fit in or belong. They have vibes that they follow to know what is trending; hairstyles, piercings or body art to mirror the reigning celebrities, joining the fit-fam gang or natural hair gang. All these drive teenagers, they want to do something because everyone is doing it, using it, or talking about it. READ: [Parenting Mistakes You Should Avoid with Teenagers]

Social Media

We’ve gone past the information age into communication, and these social media tools help drive communication with teenagers as passengers. Teens seem to live for the next selfie, or DM. They are always connected and fear missing out (a.k.a. FOMO). This is perhaps why they are most vulnerable to pedophiles, stalkers and cyber bullying which in extreme cases has led teenagers to take their own lives. Almost all teenagers belong to sites or apps like 2Go, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Face time. 

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Those Several Things You Think They Don’t Know

They recognize the ‘when I was your age’ stories for what they are – stories. What you succeed in doing with that is putting them down and widening the gap between you and them further.

They know and are exposed to more things than you realize, the x-rated ones as well. Don’t you turn to them to teach you how to work a new feature on your device? Surrounded by technology, social media, the internet, electronic media (tv and radio) they could probably teach you a few things.

What do you need to do

Stop the comparisons. Things in your days were vastly different. You didn’t have smart phones, or Snapchat, face time, Facebook or Instagram. Yes you didn’t have to come up with smart posts or take the perfect pose for a DP; nor were you under pressure to get the latest iPad or smart phones. If you made the effort, you might manage to move past the stage of them telling you to say ‘tweeting instead of twittering’ but you will most likely not be able to keep up with trends.

If you do manage to be admitted into their social media realm, don’t let the stalking be too obvious. Don’t be the parent whose child explained on Facebook that the abbreviation ‘WTF’ meant ‘Welcome to Facebook’ when it actually means “What the f**k”.

Teach them digital responsibility

Your parental responsibility is to ensure that your child has digital intelligence. The reality is that whether your child is aware or not, he or she will amass a digital footprint which will follow your child all through life. In addition, they need your help to navigate the digital world (even though they might not readily agree).

Use QustudioQustodio is user-friendly, efficient, and excellent for parents to monitor their child’s activities online. It offers a dashboard that shows you all recent activity, including time spent on specific services like Instagram and other sites online. You can set time limits, track texts, filter out certain sites, and set time limits for any game or app. It is a great control app to use when managing devices for kids of multiple ages. I personally use this app and get notifications on a daily basis to see what is happening online. Visit site: Qustodio (Android and IOS)

4 tips on how to protect your children online

Our verdict: Be understanding and accessible to your teenagers, and you just might have less headaches surviving their teenage years.

Do you have teenagers? How are you coping with their – character? Noticed any new signs or traits in your teenage children? Do share with us in the comment boxes below.

You can download a Teen Phone Contract to guide your teen’s phone and online use

Teen Phone Contract Lagosmums

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Visit our technology and parenting category and click here to learn more about teenagers.
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