Vox on Teenagers

Vox☭ has an article about the behavior of today’s teenagers, which it contrasts with the behavior of yesteryears teenagers. Today’s teens, my generation, are less likely to have sex, do drugs, drink alcohol, and fight. The article doesn’t really propose an explanation:

Seeing so many trends moving in the same direction suggests some bigger overarching explanation. Some have argued that the answer here is the decline in exposure to lead, which correlates well with some of the declines in teen crime and teen pregnancy. But at least one major recent study has questioned that relationship, suggesting it is based on faulty data.

I highly doubt it’s that we are any more conservative. My overarching explanation is that today’s teenage boys are more pussified. Less masculine. More geeky, nerdy, wimpy, “beta.” Whatever you call it, you know it when you see it. They aren’t the type to use drugs, and girls don’t want to have sex with them. My generation is less social; crime and drug use among teenagers is typically a social activity. The Vox article notes one exception to the rule of less risky behavior is that we are less likely to use sunscreen, but it fits well with my explanation: we spend less time outside.

What is the cause of this change? Liberalism and feminism is one explanation, but how often does the typical child get exposed to that? Besides, he was long told by stern faced females that he wasn’t supposed to do things, why should the feminist have more effect than the Sunday school teacher? Another explanation is antibullying. Once they said that the Columbine shooters were pushed over the edge by bullying(they were not) every teacher in the country got the message that they Had The Power to prevent another columbine. I think the biggest explanation is television, video games, and the internet. In the olden days we were forced to spend a lot of our time outside, being social and learning to break rules. It was simply harder to be the lonely nerd.

This change isn’t unambiguously a bad thing of course, there’s a lower chance that we’ll slaughter one another in some future civil war. But I do think you lose something. We’re less likely to question authority, whether it’s the authority of an exploitative employer or of the campus diversity coordinator.


Sarah Kliff et al, “Teens”, Vox, February 12 2016 http://www.vox.com/a/teens

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2 Responses to Vox on Teenagers

  1. Good post. I have a few suggestions for what can explain the decline in “risky behaviors”.
    First would be to look at the raw data disaggregated by race. As noted by Ron Unz, Hispanics and Asian tend to commit less crimes than Whites or Blacks. Since their share of the teen population is skyrocketing, that could help explain the relative decline in dangerous behaviors. The percentage of teenage Blacks in prison is probably much higher than it was even a generation ago, which will also skew the data since the most crime, alcohol, and drug prone individuals would be unable to act on their desires. Whenever Vox or NYT reports on a rapidly changing social phenomena and concludes “we have no idea why”, the answer is usually a combination of “It’s HBD” or “It’s the fault of tolerant white liberal (parents) like you.” Compare this with issues that due to HBD affect minorities more than whites such as obesity and diabetes, crime rates and educational attainment gaps, these same publications conclude that “it’s the fault of rich white liberals like you”.

    The second thing the article fails to mention is that although TV watching, drugs and alcohol have declined among the current generation, entirely new diversions like Video Games, Porn, Smart Phones and Social Media have completely changed the teenage social landscape. On a basic level, because these new technologies now exist, and there are only a fixed number of hours in a day, teens have less time to spend doing the old bad stuff. On a deeper level, these newer technologies now fulfill the sociological functions of the old vices. For instance, online and video-game bullying may have replaced real-life fist fights. Unlimited free porn, while not the same as sex, gives the more timid guys out there a nearly identical risk-free simulation. The ubiquity of cell phones has probably also curtailed teens from getting too out of control, since incriminating videos or photos are only a few texts away from reaching their parents or college admissions counsellors. (A lawyer friend of mine told me that the large increase he’s seen in teenage rape allegations is due to guys taking drunken videos of their sexual encounters, and sharing them with their bros. The videos get out and then you have a Megan’s Law case on your hands.)

    On a more meta-level, the “risky behaviors” the article lists are essentially the rebellious activities that responsible parents wouldn’t want their kids taking part in, but assume they do. By choosing the term “risky behavior” rather than more affirming “being a teenager” or “adolescent self-discovery” Vox gives away that their liberalism isn’t really the young people’s “stick it to the man” variety from the 60’s, although they’d like you to think so from their criticism of the 1%, the NYPD and Silicon Valley’s hiring committees. Rather, it’s is the kind that represents liberal helicopter parents who worry that their kids will get hurt or sneak out of the house after dark.

    But at the same time the tone of this article is not exactly celebrating the decline. It’s more of “how come our kids aren’t as adventurous as we were?” This article, as well as the near weekly “Who are the Millenials and what are they thinking” pieces are in essence fodder for upper middle class, semi-out of touch liberal parents who want to know why their kids seem less rebellious than they were. I believe that the openness of these parents to their kids trying drugs, sex and alcohol (My parent’s didn’t encourage me, but saud if you’re goanna do it, do it among friends) may have taken away the “rebellion factor” that pushed kids to try these things 20+ years ago. Bands like Nirvana and the Beastie Boys shouting that parents and teachers just don’t understand aren’t being played on the radio these days.

    It is interesting to compare Vox’s treatment of the above decline in voluntary risky behaviors with the more complicated issues of rising ADHD & Autism or gender confusion. The MSM usually tries to obscure that these things are increasing (Autism and ADHD are just diagnosed more, Transexuals are just less repressed.) However, once when these articles admit something is happening, they are celebrated. The positive coverage of the cognitive diversity movement, Gender-fluid high schools are simply other ways of placating the rich liberal helicopter parents who want to believe it’s not their fault that their kid is so messed up.

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