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Hot Take: "Kids Today" Don't Fit Expectations, and Neither Did Kids of Yesterday

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  • Tip Bones

When I read criticism of popular young adult literature (YAL), I see the same complaint frequently: they follow the same plotlines. It seems to parallel the common eye-roll-worthy critique of "kids these days" being too adolescent, too close to the stereotypical expectation of youth. But the problem is in perspective, not in the kids.

Think of a 'stereotypical' teenager right now. What are they like? Are they obsessed with seeing their friends, constantly on the phone, and experimenting with fashion choices and body modification? Do they disrespect their parents and get into ill-advised relationships, only to be hurt and/or experience unplanned pregnancy? Did we describe a majority of actual adolescents with this, or just a fictional character?

"But wait a minute," you say, "*I* wasn't like that as a teenager. It's just these darn kids these days!" Well, not exactly. The experience of adolescence does vary between generations, and the dawn of social media and technological saturation has affected what it means to grow up today. However, the experience varies between individuals as well, based upon countless factors. A young person's experience of growing up is affected by not only their familiarity (or lack thereof) with technology, but by their nationality, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability (or lack thereof), interests, talents, family size, socioeconomic standing, and so on. If you think back to your childhood,whenever it was, you probably know that you didn't fit the mold of a stereotypical teenager. That's because the stereotype is not, and has never been, 100% true, and perpetuates a division between adolescents and those who are past it.

Photo: Teen girl texting while driving. Public domain.