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Teens in the 2000s: The Technology Generation

By: Meilan Solly
LEESBURG, VA-In the 1950s, teenagers listened to rock and roll, watched TV shows like I Love Lucy, and wore poodle skirts and blue suede loafers. Today in the 2010s, teen idols are rap or pop singers, popular television programs include Jersey Shore and Glee, and fashion focuses on yoga pants and Ugg boots. Teenagers are immersed in technology; it is at school, home, work, and virtually everywhere else. Overall, teens today, in the view of Chris Allen, freshman, are “less influenced by what’s socially acceptable. They think about the present, not the past or the future.”
Allen thinks one of the main reasons teenagers today are the way they are is because of technology. Since technology is easily accessible, Allen says teens have “more access to different points of view so [they] can form their own opinions.”  Besides educating people about various issues in the world, technology “makes [teenagers] lazy,” says Morgan Allis, a senior. It is true that teenagers spend a lot of time using media (54 hours a week, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation), especially in the form of Internet, iPods, and TV. In 2004, about 39% of 8-to-18 year olds owned cell phones. In 2009, 66% did; it can be assumed that number is even higher now.
An interesting statistic about teenagers and media is that 71% of 8-to-18 year olds have a TV and 33% have Internet access in their rooms (2009). This fact could be connected to modern teens’ feeling of entitlement. “We expect more, think we deserve everything, [and] take things for granted,” explains Allis. She believes teens are this way because parents “shelter and spoil their kids.” Allis’ example of this is that her parents didn’t get cars immediately after obtaining their licenses, but she expects one.
Like teenagers of the 50s, 60s, and other decades, 2000s teenagers were shaped by wars occurring in their childhood and “tween” years. Allen and Allis both believe one of the most defining events of the time is 9/11. This tragedy is very clear in teens’ memories because thanks to mass media, it was widely broadcasted. Following the 9/11 attacks, the War on Terror began. American citizens were not actively drafted into the army, so parents, family members, and teens themselves didn’t have to fight. Many, however, chose to.
For typical modern teens, life revolves around friends, family, social media, sports and other extracurricular activities, and school. Music is also important, and popular artists include Adele, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Eminem, and Coldplay. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have become ingrained in daily lives and have even been the source of new verbs like “tweeted”. Thanks to these social media sites, people are more connected than ever.
On the surface, the modern teen is quite different than the teens of yesteryear. In reality, though, the two may be more similar than one would think. Both are defined by music, new customs, and technology which their parents don’t necessarily approve of or understand. They are involved in wars and protests and are hoping to make their own unique marks on the world. Morgan Allis thinks that the 2000s are defined by “change,” and while this is certainly true, maybe in the end it’s only technology that is evolving, not the people at the root of society.

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