Tag Archives: adolescence

teenage, the movie

loved the book a few years ago (which really helped me understand the historical back story of youth culture). so i’m stoked to find there’s a short movie coming out in 2012:

the synopsis:

Based on a groundbreaking book by the punk author Jon Savage, Teenage is an unconventional historical film about the invention of teenagers. Bringing to life fascinating youth from the early 20th century—from party-crazed Flappers and hipster Swing Kids to brainwashed Nazi Youth and frenzied Sub-Debs—the film reveals the pre-history of modern teenagers and the struggle between adults and adolescents to define youth.

Incredible archival material mixes seamlessly with 16mm recreations featuring actors. Based on actual teenage diaries, the footage resembles period home movies made by kids themselves. Stylized narration dramatizes this turbulent story and a contemporary soundtrack heightens emotions. The result is a visually explosive, pop meditation on how teenagers were born.

here’s the website, with a blog and other stuff

(thanks to robb gossen for pointing me to this)

the myth of adolescence

adam mclane stirred some interesting discussion with his blog post on the ys blog the other day, called “is adolescence a myth?” he highlights the perspective of robert epstein, who has been, for a few years, making the case that adolescence is not real (or, at least it wasn’t, until we created it).

a bit from adam’s post:

Youth ministry is built upon the assumption that there is such a thing as adolescence.

But one Psychologist, former Psychology Today editor Robert Epstein, is questioning this basic assumption that the teenage years are a time of turmoil where a person figures out who they are as an individual. His theory is that adolescents aren’t that different from adults after all, we just don’t expect them to exhibit adult competencies.

then he links to this u.s. news & world report interview with epstein.

i also notice that epstein has a new book out (called teen 2.0). at 500 pages, it’s even longer than epstein’s first book on this subject, the case against adolescence (450 pages), which is part of why that book has sat on my shelf for more than two years without being read.

all that said, i’ve come to believe that the long-winded dr. epstein has a point. i don’t think we should pendulum swing. but i think he raises some extremely good points that have slowly infiltrated their way into my thinking in the last couple years.

here’s my 2 cents (my comment on adam’s post):

i’ve been stewing on epstein’s contentions for a couple years now, since i first saw his articles and quotes (first in response to jay geidd’s discoveries about adolescent brain development, most clearly reported in barbara strauch’s book, the primal teen). at first, i was angry. after all, i’ve spent my adult life pouring into this age group. and, as an adolescent development buff, have always viewed adolescence as a distinct life phase.

but, over time, epstein’s thrust has found some resonance in my thinking. i’m not ready to chuck adolescence as a unique life stage; but i have started viewing it (and talking about it) as a cultural construct, rather than merely a physio/psychological phase. it’s a chicken-and-egg question, really. i DO think we (our culture) “created” adolescence, in a sense (though there are god-design aspects built in also). but even if it is a social or cultural construct, it’s still the reality that our real life teenagers are living in! epstein’s stuff has implications, to be sure; and i really need to get around to reading his massive book that has been sitting on my shelf for almost 2 years (The Case Against Adolescence). but i also want to live out my youth ministry calling by doing ministry WITHIN the culture i and teens live in.

an important quote from Epstein’s book, fwiw:
“…Until about a century ago… adolescence as we know it barely existed. Through most of human history, young people were integrated into adult society early on, but beginning in the late 1800s, new laws and cultural practices began to isolate teens from adults, imposing on them an increasingly large set of restrictions and artificially extending childhood well past puberty. New research suggests that teens today are subjected to more than ten times as many restrictions as are most adults, and adulthood is delayed until well into the twenties or thirties. It’s likely that the turmoil we see among teens is an unintended result of the artificial extension of childhood.”

this is important stuff for youth workers and parents. what are your thoughts?

the 10 commandments of (european) youth

fascinating post over on ypulse the other day, culled from an mtv sticky report called youthtopia (a study of hopes and dreams). the study describes itself this way: “In the first-ever effort to understand the values, hopes and dreams of young people in Europe, MTV asked over 7,000 youths to imagine their ideal world and to consider brands as people and whether those ‘people’ would be welcome in their world –‘Youthtopia’.”

one aspect of the study (conducted among european youth) involved asking 100 european youth to re-write the 10 commandments to reflect their values. the ypulse author rightly suggests: The results paint more than a flattering self-portrait of this generation as an aspirational model for society — one that tellingly promotes accountability, positivity and passion above all else.

here they are:

The Ten Commandments of Youth

1. Have faith in yourself.
2. Respect your parents.
3. Be honest.
4. Take responsibility for your own life.
5. Live life to the fullest and be passionate.
6. Keep your promises.
7. Work hard to succeed but not to the detriment of others.
8. Be tolerant of others’ differences.
9. Be happy and optimistic, even in adversity.
10. Create, don’t destroy.

wow. choose to get past any weirdness you might be experiencing about “re-writing the 10 commandments” — that isn’t the point here! seriously, there’s some great stuff in here! this would make a very cool teaching series, including some connection with and reflection on the actual/original 10 commandments (many of which are covered in this “new” list!).

links to check out

my friend bob carlton sends me lots of really helpful links to check out on the ‘net. i put most of them into a temporary folder until i have a chance to catch up on them. these links are all from a wad i just got caught up on. really interesting stuff for youth workers (and parents, in some cases):

— study shows that teenagers (at least in the UK, where the study was done) spend an average of 31 hours a week online (and, an average of 2 of those hours are spent looking at porn).

The Idea Camp: a free hybrid conference for idea makers (Feb 27-28, 2009 in Irvine, CA)

The Idea Camp is a FREE, open source hybrid conference designed to help people move from the realm of ideas to implementation.
We are gathering some of the most innovative and creative leaders from around the country (this means YOU!) to share ideas, intentionally network, and move collaboratively into idea-making. Whether your passion is church leadership, non-profit work, social entrepreneurialism, technology, media, creativity, culture making, church planting, spiritual formation, compassionate justice, etc., this is the conference for YOU.

Spirituality, Not Religion, Makes Kids Happy (on livescience.com)

The link between spirituality and happiness is pretty well-established for teens and adults. More spirituality brings more happiness. Now a study has reached into the younger set, finding the same link in “tweens” and in kids in middle childhood.
Specifically, the study shows that children who feel that their lives have meaning and value and who develop deep, quality relationships — both measures of spirituality, the researchers claim — are happier.
Personal aspects of spirituality (meaning and value in one’s own life) and communal aspects (quality and depth of inter-personal relationships) were both strong predictors of children’s happiness, said study leader Mark Holder from the University of British Columbia in Canada and his colleagues Ben Coleman and Judi Wallace.
However, religious practices were found to have little effect on children’s happiness, Holder said.

Teens send 10,000 text messages per year, study finds (this study is also from the UK, where — i’ve observed — the texting craze amongst teenagers happened earlier than it did for american teens). the article is about more than just texting, btw.

The average teenager sends almost 10,000 text messages per year, and is so worried about missing an important call that they leave their mobile phone switched on overnight, according to the latest survey into the digital habits of young people.

Youth No Longer Defined by Age; Consumers Stay ‘Younger’ Longer

The traditional demographic definition of “youth” is no longer applicable in today’s society, and marketers should target consumers based upon their engagement and participation in youth culture rather than by chronological age, according to the “Golden Age of Youth” study from Viacom Brand Solutions International (VBSI), writes MarketingCharts.
As people worldwide delay the onset of adult responsibilities and stay emotionally and physically younger for longer, it is becoming more acceptable for older people to participate in youthful pursuits. To support this trend, marketers should routinely consider the often-overlooked 25-34 age group a part of the youth market, VBSI said.
“Contemporary youth should now be defined as ‘the absence of functional and/or emotional maturity,’ reflecting the fact that accepting traditional responsibilities such as mortgages, children and developing a strong sense of self-identity/perspective is occurring later and later in life,” the study said.

adolescence myth busting

this is a great article on a variety of myths about adolescence, including:
– the myth that teenagers are more sexually active than ever, and at younger ages
– the myth that all teenagers are more highly stressed by their schedules than ever
– the myth that boys are falling behind in school

it focuses on the first of those myths (“teens are, in truth, having sex less and later than they did a decade or two ago”). here’s a snippet (but it’s a short article, and you should click through and read the whole thing):

In each of these examples, real problems – that some girls are engaging in too-young, risky and degrading sex, that some children are being stressed excessively and stifled by nonstop structure, that some boys (poor and minority boys) are doing badly in school, that some children are getting really reckless mental health services – are grossly simplified and, via the magical thinking of dogma and ideology, are elevated to the level of myth. Real complexities and nuances – details concerning exactly which children are suffering, flailing or failing, and in what numbers, and how and why, and what we can do about it – are lost.

we youth workers have perpetuated many of these myths, i think, in part, because it justifies our existence. this article is cause for pause, i think.

do you think there are other myths we perpetuate?

(ht to ypulse)

youthworker journal column

i write an every-other-issue column on middle school ministry for youthworker journal. the new one just came out, and is on their website also: here.

this one is about the difference between 6th graders and 8th graders, and how it can feel like whiplash to say goodbye to graduating 8th graders and welcome in the new 6th graders.

here’s a snippet:

This is our calling, isn’t it? We’re tour guides for adolescence. We welcome these fresh-faced children, give them the lay of the land (in multiple ways, including—but not limited to—the spiritual landscape they’ll journey through in the decade to come), and walk alongside them. Really, we’re front-lobby tour guides: We welcome; we orient; we affirm and acknowledge; and we get them all the way to their seats in the grand showroom of the find-out-who-you-are convention of youth.

has the “adolescent construct” outlived its usefullness?

professor darwin glassford posted a provocative question on the youth ministry 3.0 facebook group:

I just finished reading YM 3.0, overall I found it a delightful experience. After reflecting on it, I am left with nagging sense that no matter how well we understand the life issues and culture we will still be frustrated. In education speak one of the primary questions is, “What is your understanding of the learner?” I wonder what would happen if we abandoned the social construct of adolescence in our churches and ministries and saw young people as young adults who are to be mentored into adult roles and responsibilities? I believe that this would be truly counter-cultural. It would also speak to the desire for relationship between young people and adults. It would challenge adults to foster responsible relationships with young people. For our desire is that young people become mature Christ followers and take on appropriate responsibilities in the church.

there’s great discussion going on. check it out and add your thoughts.

the last five things

ypulse has an interesting series of posts collecting info from their youth advisory board on their actual use of social media and other online stuff: MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, streaming TV and movies, downloading music. for each of these categories, a few of the advisory team tell the “last five things” they did. it’s a helpful snapshot of real life (not theoretical) teen and young adult usage of these various media.

check ’em out here:

the last five things i did on facebook

the last five things i watched online

the last five things i googled

the last five things i bought online

i expect there will be more to come in this series. i’ll likely post them when they do.

extended adolescence

lots of adolescent specialists have been talking and writing, for a number of years, about the upper-end extension of adolescence (at the same time as puberty has dropped, creating a greatly lengthened adolescent experience). people have started to talk about adolescence in three phases:
– young teen (roughly 11 – 14)
– middle teen (roughly 15 – 19)
– emerging adulthood (roughly 20 – 25 or longer)

but this article in ypulse, referencing this article on vox marketing is the first time i’ve heard about research saying adolescence is, in some ways, extended well into the 30s! holy cow.

this is a result of our cultural descriptions of adulthood:

Because the traditional duties that come with adulthood, like mortgages, children, marriage, and developing a strong sense of self-identity now happen later in life, 52% of 25-34 year-olds said they still have “a lot of growing up to do.”

another key quote:

“Even in these financially challenging times, people are trying to stay younger for longer,” said Kevin Razvi, EVP and managing director of VBSI. “25-to-34 year-olds are continuing to consume music, gaming and the internet and are enjoying the pursuits of their younger years while benefiting from a greater level of personal and financial freedom.”

they talk about three phases of “youth” this way:
– “discovery” is defined as 16-19 years old
– “experimentation” is 20-24 years old
– and “golden” is 25-34 years old.

interesting how these ideas align (though the ages don’t at all!) with stephen glenn’s old model, that i’ve taught for years (i might not have the age brackets right here, but this is how i’ve talked about them):

birth – 2: discovery
3 – 7: testing
8 – 10: concluding
— puberty —
11 – 13: discovery
14 – 17: testing
18+: concluding

given this new extending of adolescence, i’m wondering if there’s almost a third turn of glenn’s cycle. interesting stuff for thought.

feed the brain

really interesting article about a new program out of duke university to help teenagers make the most of their brains. it’s totally in line with the stuff i’ve been reading (and writing about on this blog) for a couple years, about adolescent brain development. in fact, when i asked an adolescent brain specialist, at our junior high pastors summit a couple years ago, how we can help teenagers develop their brain capacity, he listed three things: lots of sleep, good diet and exercise, and living with the consequences of their choices. the “learn now what you want to remember for the rest of your life” point also confirms what i’ve been reading and talking about in terms of “hard wiring” the brain in the years following the onset of puberty, when the pre-pubescent proliferation of neuron development switches into reverse, and begins a winnowing process based on a “use it or lose it” principle.

this would be a good article to pass along to teenagers, and/or to parents:

7 Ways to Learn More Without More Study

(here are the 7 points — but you’ll need to click through to see what the article says about them.)

1. Get to bed and go to sleep.

2. Start studying a few days in advance of a test.

3. Feed your head.

4. Body exercise is brain exercise.

5. Learn now what you want to remember for the rest of your life.

6. Harness the power of risk-taking.

7. Learn what you love.

(ht to heidi turner)