TED Conversations

Gayle Kimball

CSUC

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How are teens today different from their parents' generation? How will they change the way we do things?

I have a draft of a book about how global youth will transform our future and would like to add your observations. I can also send chapters if you'd like to critique. Specific examples of concepts are helpful.

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    Feb 7 2013: Humanity has not changed as much has we are usually prone to think. Teenagers of every generation face the similar issues; like the same story set in different times. I dont think the world of today is any different from the world of the past; neither would the future be any different.
    As long as we are human beings. Which for now, we are.
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      Feb 7 2013: I agree. People tend to have an exaggerated view of differences among them. It may be connected either to a pressing desire to self-define by way of difference or a sort of competitiveness.
  • Mar 5 2013: I think teens are seeing and experiencing, in a few years, changes that their parents experienced in their entire life. Something teens have to realize is that they have the knowledge at their fingertips from the net. They can re-shape this planet the way they want.

    In 30 years from now, today's teenagers will be in charge of the world, the sooner they are exposed to the challenges and problems of the world the sooner they can start looking for solutions. Teenagers today will grow faster than their parents.
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    Mar 5 2013: Well, I'm a teen.

    To us, nothing is different, but what you, the adults, or more specifically the parents, show us is different. I haven't lived the life my parents, have, therefore its impossible for me to know entirely what is different, except when my parents tell me what wasn't like what when they were my age, etc.

    If I had to tell you honestly, we are reliant on social networking to communicate ideas. We use it much like you use this site, we interact socially and are also able to discuss schoolwork. I don't have to be with my group in person to have a valuable conversation, I can video call them. I don't need go over to my buddy's house and tell him about a great new band, I can post a link to it in our Facebook group.

    This may seem like a bad thing, why should I leave my chair when I can talk online? In this respect, it is. But the mindset of teens is changing. Sure, there are some fools, but there always will be. This generation, if you look closely, thirsts for change and is globally aware, for the most part. That is a very productive combination. We have unlimited access to knowledge, and can communicate our thoughts in unbiased areas through the anonymity of the internet.

    The objective of my answer is that I am not bound to my parents' opinions. I don't have to grow up sharing their beliefs. I can be whomever I want. Is that dangerous or wonderful? You tell me in the novel.
    • Mar 5 2013: Terrific to hear from a teen! Do you mind saying how old? I'll quote you in my book about how global youth will change our future, so I'd like to learn more about you and your friends' "thirsts for change." What specifically? What would you like to study in college? About what percent of young people you know are in fact globally aware and activist and what percent are apathetic or caught up in materialism? Thanks so much for speaking up for teens, gayle
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        Mar 5 2013: Wow, thanks! I'm 16 years old, by the way.

        I guess its important to tell you, again, that I wasn't alive during my parents generation, but here's an explanation on the change: we are more open to it. We live in a time when styles, fashion, technology- everything changes at such a fast pace. We are, as a result, accustomed to it. We are expectant of it. So, a literal thirst for change may have been exaggerated, its more of an openness to change that I don't see in my parents. We are curious about the benefits change may bring.

        As for my other points, we have unlimited access to knowledge which is huge- for the first time I can have different beliefs than my parents. I can be brought up right wing and yet have left wing beliefs by age 15 (just an example).

        As for my future, I plan to go into computer science. Its a field that has shown annual growth even in 2008 and I have already planned my high school courses (or the remainder of them) in order to get into the program I want.

        Tell me if I can be if more help.
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    Mar 4 2013: They have less health, less jobs, less education, less opportunities and more weight.
    • Mar 4 2013: As a global generation, they're more healthy and more educated. Yes, obesity and unemployment are big problems. I think we need to hear from someone in the generation we're discussing. Thanks.
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        Mar 5 2013: Read this after I posted... look up. I hope its helpful.
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        Mar 6 2013: 1st world countries may be more educated. The rest not at all.
        Obesity is changing the the life expectancy.
  • Feb 11 2013: The teens of today will only be able to change things if they have "real freedom" to do so.
    If they have freedom, then it would be great if they are able to clean up, change and make right the horrible mess they are going to be left with.
    If I were them, I would be so angry I would want all previous generations to be killed, eliminated for the damage they have willingly and intentionally done to the earth, to each other, to their children and to their sanity.

    I forgot to mention. They also have to be sane and that doesn't look good right about now as mental illness is affecting over one half the U.S. population and is beginning at age eleven. Might be lower now.
    Close to twenty years go by before this mental illness is recognized, addressed and dealt with.

    If they make changes to their world while they are mentally ill or outright insane, who knows what it will look like.
    But, one can certainly imagine.

    I don't know for sure, but the younger generations are being taught how to be successful in corrupt systems.
    This means they will ultimately have to be corrupted themselves.
    They are not being educated in how to effectively change the almost completely broken system they currently are living in that is affecting their thinking in very negative and wrong ways. Ways that are not truthful.
  • Feb 10 2013: Teens I've interviewed would agree with you. Note that teen pregnancies have declined, not increased in the US. Could you say a bit about your experience with teens?
    This discussion needs the voice of youth.
  • Feb 10 2013: Here are few of my observations, These are all my personal opinions gathered from my own experience. I dont have any studies to claim them, so it may seem unscientific to take some serious note of them... :) Also there are individual differences so a gross generalization is a difficult task-

    The upcoming generation of teens is cognitively superior than their parents during their teenage. It's mainly because of the kind of exposure they get during early age with the help of technology. They want everything to be done quickly and arent much willing to be patient to get something. They will fastly move on to something else in case of failure in one task as there are more choices available today than old times. So lack of persistence can be easily observed among them. They are becoming more individualistic and less dependent on their parents. At the same time, they are much open towards any change which is rationally acceptable to them. Todays teens are less prejudiced towards other communities and readily mix with people from different groups without much apprehensions. The number of pregnancies during teenage are rising rapidly, it reflects the favourable attitude of teenagers towards their instinctual behavior by denying the societal pressure. They are also more self centered.
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    Feb 9 2013: Rewrite! I think one must span more than one generation to see marked, non-trivial differences. I'm a cyber-loafer and am familiar with America's best party school (is it still?) so send me a copy of the opening chapter!
    • Feb 10 2013: Dear Mr. Long,
      Thanks. How do I email a chapter to you?
      Again, teens don't agree. They see marked differences between their parents' generation and their own, especially in developing countries. I just read over 100 replies to the book question and they mostly agree with the quote below.
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        Feb 10 2013: Go to my profile by selecting my avatar. Red letters on the right near the top invite you to "Send this person an email." By the way, you should copyright the phrase, "Teens don't agree." They are last group we should consult to determine what is non-trivial. I recall as a teenager one monumental, earthshaking, all-consuming issue I had to battle was getting my Mother to "peg my 501's"! Also, my criticism will probably be of minimal value to you overall, but regarding teens of nations other than the USA they will be 100% conjecture.
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        Feb 10 2013: This is also common to teens of other generations. Each generation of teens believes they are fundamentally different from the teens or people of other generations. It is another common trait among teens across generations.
  • Feb 7 2013: Teens in Japan and France are least optimistic according to many studies, so it's the culture as well as being young.
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    Feb 7 2013: I don't know cause I don't interact with teens much. I usually get a feeling of optimism from them. Is it possible all teens in all ages are optimistic?
  • Feb 7 2013: Young people tend to think they're different, more technologically advanced, more globally aware. Here's a quote from a girl, 15, in India, comparing her generation and her parents'.

    We are inferior in showing respect and concern for the society, but I think we are better than them technology-wise. They are trying to get used to an all fast generation.

    Also, many studies show global youth are optimistic despite high youth unemployment.
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    Feb 7 2013: I should feel sorry for teens today, they have some much against them.
    Today’s diet is going to kill them way to young, their education is a horrible and health care is headed that way and America exists in name only, are just a few things against them.

    But because I have faith that they will change things, and although I know it will be a hard path in front on them.
    It will be one in which future generations will look back and proclaim them as the greatest generation version 2.0.
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    Feb 7 2013: They are over exposed to too much adult media but i think the only way to check this will not be the adults or government intrusion but they themselves within their localized area. I think kids need to begin checking themselves as well as checking each other to push it back as parents are hesitant or just plain don't care about their online data soak.
  • Feb 7 2013: Maybe less different than you are arguing.
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    Feb 6 2013: I wish I could offer to critique your chapters but regret I cannot.

    Would you be willing to share your main findings from your survey?

    I think the answer may be very different depending on where they live. In the Middle East young people may perceive opportunities for change that youth fifty years ago may never have envisioned.

    In the United States the current twenty-somethings are the children of the generation of parents who protested against the Vietnam War and ushered in lasting cultural changes. Some of those kids may well be a little less open-minded or aggressive about change than their parents were! But entrepreneurship, both commercial and social, is very much in vogue, made the more viable by social networking and the internet.

    Older teenagers and young twenty-somethings today are living in a context of great economic uncertainty that may be brought home all the more vividly if their parents have been caught in the worse of the economic downturn. It is easy to notice great seas of pessimism at every age level, particularly among those most caught in the middle.

    So I don't know that the kids themselves are so different in any specific way but expect that there is great variation among them, as there typically has been..

    I probably replied to your query the last time you posted it here also:)