>Yesterday we had Dr. Moses Cheng, the principal of West Chicago High School, and a dear brother in the Lord, share some of his insights on the world of teenagers. I’ve put together a summary of his insights and some common themes in his presentation.
1. The struggles and pressures of a teen today are not all that different than when we (the older generation) were growing up. However, these struggles and pressures are much more intensified as the culture as changed from one of rites of passage into adulthood to abandonment where students need to figure out how to be adults on their own. For instance, pressure in high school sports causes students to be busier than ever, more competitive, and more driven to compete and succeed.
2. Technology has had a HUGE impact on the world of a teen. Some of the specific areas:
- Celebrity status has been redefined. With the phenomena of ‘going viral’, anyone can now be a celebrity, and this has imprinted students to want to make their mark.
- With the advent of digital media, students are able to consume more information than ever before in HALF the time. (For more info on this, see the Kaiser Family Foundation Report on Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 year olds). Thus, media has a HUGE influence on the mindset of these teens. Combined with the ability to network and disperse information, teens have unprecedented ability to mobilize and influence one another.
- In addition, students are used to having their entire lives recorded and on display from the time they are born. Thus, it should be no surprise that they find nothing wrong with putting their lives on display via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.
- With the accessibility of Google, Wikipedia, etc., students have access to vast information repositories that challenge the parent as the sole authority. If a parent speaks to something, their perspective can be verified and challenged by just “googling it”.
- Texting, Facebook, Twitter make it possible for students to always be connected, and always be engaging with their peers. Thus, students have deeper and more intense ties of loyalty and connectedness to their peers – even moreso than their families.