What was important to teens in the past is still important today. The only difference is that teens today show it differently. By knowing the universal draws for teens, parents can stay up-to-date with what their teens are doing and why they’re doing it.
Trends Parents Don’t Understand
Trends that parents don’t understand have a single purpose: Ensure that parents can’t understand. Researchers, including University of Washington professor Crispin Thurlow, author of “Talking Adolescence,” indicate that teens often engage in nonsensical activities with one another as a way of solidifying their identity as members of a non-adult group. Because teens see their world as one significantly different from that of their parents’, they often develop strange trends for the mere purpose of differentiating themselves from their parents.
Trends of Increased Privacy
A new technology such as texting or social media use has enormous opportunities to make how the world communicates more convenient and inexpensive. However, parents might notice that teens prefer texting to talking on the phone or to face-to-face communication. Texting under the dinner table has affected many a household’s family dinnertime. Though parents might be disappointed to hear it, any trend that gives a teen more privacy from his parents is likely to become huge among teens. John Gottman, psychologist and author of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child,” suggests that teens prefer privacy for one main reason: They can act without the fear of judgment from parents. While this does not mean teens wish to engage in illegal or immoral behavior, it does mean that many teens dread having to explain their actions or thoughts to their parents and are willing to use whatever new methods available to get around such issues.
In the past, what was mainstream culture was clear to all. Most teens watched the same TV programs, listened to the same music and had similar hobbies. Today, with technology and communications expanding how teens interact with the world, teens have been able to “niche themselves,” or find certain groups, hobbies and subcultures that better represent their personalities. New cliques in schools have popped up all over the world because of similar-minded teens connecting through the Internet, frequenting specific music venues and connecting through their niche hobbies. A parent of a goth teen might worry that this strange, new trend will prevent him from succeeding in the social world, but such fears are unwarranted in a world where subcultures of all types are spreading to even the smallest of towns. Most parents need not worry because most hobbies and subcultures teens join are merely ways of expressing their individuality; they will often grow out of obsessing over trivial, superficial trends of style.
The language teens use today will be gone tomorrow. Nevertheless, language trends are huge and affect teens everywhere. According to English professor and author of “Trends in Teenage Talk,“ Anna-Brita Stenstroem, teens adopt the language they hear in the media and among their peers as a way of rebelling against the language standards of society. Obscene language is one example of a language trend that affects nearly all teens but changes quickly. In most circumstances, such trends are not damaging, but parents should still make their expectations clear: Some language is harmful and rude; other language is not appropriate for academic situations, such as speech-giving and writing. Overall, these trends are just a way for teens to be teens and do not seep into teens’ adult lives.
- Trends in Teenage Talk: Corpus compilation, analysis and findings (Studies in Corpus Linguistics); Anna-Brita Stenstroem et al.
- Talking Adolescence (Language As Social Action); Crispin Thurlow and Angie Williams
- Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child; John Gottman
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