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Teen Problems Essay Intro

By John Pickrell

The teenager is a uniquely human phenomenon.

Adolescents are known to be moody, insecure, argumentative, angst-ridden, impulsive, impressionable, reckless and rebellious. Teenagers are also characterised by odd sleeping patterns, awkward growth spurts, bullying, acne and slobbish behaviour. So what could be the possible benefit of the teenage phase?

Most other animals – apes and human ancestors included – skip that stage altogether, developing rapidly from infancy to full adulthood. Humans, in contrast, have a very puzzling four-year gap between sexual maturity and prime reproductive age. Anthropologists disagree on when the teenage phase first evolved, but pinpointing that date could help define its purpose.

There are a variety of current explanations for the existence of teenagers. Some believe that we need longer for our large brains to develop. Other explanations suggest that a teenage phase allows kids to learn about complex social behaviour and other difficult skills, or that it is even required to develop coordinated bipedal bodies adapted to travelling long distances.

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Raging hormones

Scientists once thought that the brain’s internal structure was fixed at the end of childhood, and teenage behaviour was blamed on raging hormones and a lack of experience. Then researchers discovered that the brain undergoes significant changes during adolescence.

According to many recent studies, teen brains really are unique (see interactive graphic). Though many brain areas mature during childhood, others mature later – such as the frontal and parietal lobes, responsible for planning and self-control.

Other studies have shown that teens fail to see the consequences of their actions, and that sudden increases in nerve connectivity in teen brains may make it difficult for teenagers to read social situations and other people’s emotions.

Risky behaviour

One study in 2004 showed that teens have less brain activity in areas responsible for motivation and risk assessment, perhaps explaining why they are more likely to take part in risky activities such as abusing drugs and alcohol, develop a hard-to-kick smoking habit or indulge in under-age sex.

Teenage pregnancies and rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases among teens are big problems – especially because today’s teen generation is the biggest the world has seen: a 2003 UN report revealed that 1 in 5 people were between 10 and 19, a total of 1.2 billion people.

But not everyone agrees on the best way to tackle the problem. Some believe that comprehensive sex education is the key, while others argue for abstinence only education courses.

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Teenagers of Today

Teenagers are persons whose age bracket falls between thirteen and nineteen years of age. It’s the age that is preceded by adolescence which is characterized by tremendous psychological and physical changes. Today, teenagers are conspicuously different from the teenagers of the early 2000s also known as millennials and those who came before them. Today’s teens were born between the year 1998 and 2004 when the world was warming up to and welcoming the 21st century. The 21st century introduced the digital era with information technology taking shape and becoming more accessible to billions of people across the world, teenagers and young children included. They are popularly known as the iGeneration or generation Z.

From the way they dress to the way they socialize to their opinion on politics and global issues they portray the image of a young, well-informed human being with a know-it-all attitude. They follow fashion trends of their favorite celebrities They were born into a tech-savvy, fast paced and conflict ridden world with ready access to the media, both mainstream and social media, as well as exposure to violence and x-rated content in the internet. They can connect with their peers digitally on the click of a button on online platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat with majority spending a big chunk of their time online chatting and browsing the internet. Unlike other generations who mostly played outdoor games back in their teenage, the iGeneration plays indoor computer games as well as non- computerized indoor games such as scrabble and chess. Playing outdoors is less popular and is seen as out-dated, old-fashioned and not trendy. They are outrageously obsessed with taking selfies, partying, shopping sprees and an insatiable desire to live a typical bon vivant kind of a lifestyle.

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Despite enjoying all the above privileges and basking in the bliss of technology, teenagers of today are facing a wide ranged myriad of challenges. They are a stressed troubled lot. They suffer from unprecedented levels of peer pressure, violence, sexual abuse and unemployment. Most of them have been victims of cyberbullying with increasing cases being reported every day. Cyber bullying has been exacerbated by the fact that many teens have access to the internet and they spend at least a quarter of their day online. There is speculation that many of these cases are not reported and that many teenagers suffer in silence as they fear being stigmatized or being seen as weak and susceptible to harassment. Cases of radicalization via online platforms are also increasing with many teens getting lured by terror gangs to join them in Jihadist missions around the world. Many teenagers have been nabbed trying to cross the border to join ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terror groups while other have been found in possession of guns and explosives signifying the extent of radicalization, especially by Islamist groups.

Health problems have not spared the modern day teenager either. Staring at screens for a long period of time from a close range and a state of inactivity occasioned by lack of exercise has caused serious ailments among teenagers. Obesity, poor eyesight and mental health issues have become commonplace health concerns for medical scholars. Depression arising from violent experiences and information overload from the media and internet has in many cases resulted in suicide. Majority of them are also alienated from their parents and relatives and do not get adequate parental advice and care since they are either away in school or busy browsing the internet.

The iGeneration is a good group to observe, study and forms a good basis for predicting how future teenagers will be like as we head towards the postmodern era.

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