They’re Good Kids

Discussion
Mar 30, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

For all the grousing about the behavior of today’s kids, particularly teenagers, it turns out that they may be turning out better than we did.

According to a report from the Foundation for Child Development, kids today are less likely to engage in binge drinking, smoking and drug use than, say, their parents were back in the seventies.

While kids appear to be less likely to engage in some of the harmful pursuits of their parents at the same age, they have problems of their own. As Fasaha Traylor, senior program officer at the Foundation for Child Development, said, “We can do better and we are doing better, but not better enough.’

One area where more work is needed is on the health and nutrition front. According to the research the percentage of kids who are obese has tripled since 1975.

Moderator’s Comment: What insights can you share about America’s teenagers? What does this mean for companies that market to and, in some cases, employ
these kids?

There is some merit to the theory of Kenneth Land, a professor at Duke University and author of the report, for why kids are generally better behaved today
than their parents were at the same age. Having engaged in reckless behavior in our own youth, we are more controlling and less likely to allow our own kids to make the same mistakes.


George Anderson – Moderator

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8 Comments on "They’re Good Kids"


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Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
I think there are two or possibly more strains of activity going on with teenagers today. I think they are likely not a whole bunch different than we were back then. They face the same challenges and yet have more alternatives. None of the temptations are different, yet the media exposing those has increased exponentially. There is certainly a set of teens following what might be described as the MTV trend and have a completely different mentality towards life. There is a larger majority of teens that are yet more conservative and are neglected and ignored by the traditional forms of entertainment, media and retail. They are also grossly ignored by many in the fashion marketplace. In this area, those who wish to maintain an ounce of modesty in their clothing go wanting. There is also a growing number of youth practicing their faith. There are increasing opportunities for retailers in these areas, yet the many retailers specializing in these areas are often considered outside of the mainstream. My own child’s place, however, as a… Read more »
Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
I think Stuart’s comments are very insightful and, perhaps because we’re both raising kids in the NY metro area, our experiences are similar. I see an intense period between the ages of 15 and 20 when kids pack in a lot of experimentation. They’re “growing up” quickly during those years, but it’s a nerve-racking time for parents because most kids lack the emotional or judgmental wherewithal to act responsibly. Alcohol is a huge problem in our community and surrounding towns. It’s gotten to the point that many parents I speak with support the idea of lowering the drinking age back down to 18 so that college kids, at least, will have a relatively safe, monitored environment in which to do their drinking (e.g. bars). So I think, with the abundance of media influences — MTV especially — kids are more aware, but also just as susceptible to the images of drunken partying and general mayhem. With a lot of luck, they survive their teens and, mostly, come out OK. But when they’re in that phase,… Read more »
Tom Zatina
Guest
Tom Zatina
15 years 10 months ago

It would be very disappointing to find out that they were NOT turning out better. After all, our kids have grown up with a barrage of messages in school, on TV and at home about the evils that ensnared us. They have been better informed and are more aware. Beyond that, it comes down to the parenting that they have received.

The key message is that these kids are basically good, but as with past generations, they want to do things their way and deserve the room and respect to do just that.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 10 months ago

I had an interesting conversation with a friend’s 13-year-old daughter the other day, who is generally a sweet, smart, responsible kid. Her parents drink in moderation and always have, so there is no at-home exposure to overdrinking.

She went on a diatribe about alcohol and its evils. I pointed out to her that, in moderation, it was actually good for you, as is food. It’s not the substance, it’s how it’s used.

She totally rejected that there was an equivalency between alcohol and food and quantity. Let me now say this child is extremely overweight, perhaps obese. So, in her world, any alcohol consumption was wrong, but any amount of food consumption seemed all right.

I do believe we’ve mostly gotten it right in educating kids about alcohol, drugs, and socialization. We have clearly missed the boat on food.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

As with the other commentators here, I have personal experience having been a teenager in the seventies and having 3 teens of my own now. In fact, I just returned from escorting my 16 year old and friends on spring break in Florida, so the topic is especially top of mind.

As is often the case, I find great wisdom in the words of Will Rogers…

“The greatest virtue in a man is good judgment. Good judgment is the product of experience — and experience is the product of poor judgment.”

I have much better judgment than my kids do.

Stuart Silverman
Guest
Stuart Silverman
15 years 10 months ago
OK, so maybe the kids are “more” responsible about drugs and drinking that we were. But you have to accept that “more” is the operable term here because they surely aren’t adhering to a zero tolerance policy. I’m thinking that this may be a result of the environment being more accepting about their activities. I think that in some areas, especially around social interaction, they are growing up much faster than we did. They stay out later. Boys and girls sleep together in groups in the same rooms – I don’t know what goes on in those rooms, but it just seems like sleep. They just seem to be more accepting of each other. At a parents seminar during my daughter’s first year in college, the admissions director shed some light on this. She said that this is the first wave of kids to have come through day care from the beginning. They have been socialized from a very early age. They have learned to work and interact in groups from the very beginning. So,… Read more »
Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Kids are far more mature at their age now than we were, well, back in the 60s. We were raised far more sheltered, kept away from adult realities. So, in our ignorance, we had to try everything, and rebel against everything, because so much was unknown. My kids are now 27, 21 and 16, and they experienced far more than I did at their age. They’ve all rebelled in their own ways, which is good, but they all also grew up when smoking was decidedly uncool. (In my day, it was cool, so almost all of us did.) To a degree, the same is true of drugs and alcohol. In days gone by, there was no honest discussion of them. They were either demonized so ludicrously that it eroded any possible credibility, or just not discussed at all. I think today’s environment, despite all the angst, is much healthier. I find kids today have a very healthy skepticism. I’d market to them as mature people, and be totally upright and honest with them.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

The notion of a “teenager” — or that there was a middle state between being a child and being an adult — started off as an American idea and may well be our most odious global exports. Go to Rwanda or other parts of Africa, the less affluent parts of Latin America, most of the Middle East and a good piece of Eastern Europe and “teenagers” as we like to think of them (hormonal, angst ridden, rebellious puppy-loving creatures who exist in an ether world somewhere between pure childhood and what passes as full adulthood) are pretty hard to find. That said, having created a special class of being, you can count on one thing — they don’t want to be like Mom and Dad — however they interpret that.

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