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Teenagers of Today

Yes, I am technically apart of Gen Z, but I’m more on the Zillenial side because I definitely do not claim to be part of the same generation of people I teach. Though I’ve only got one semester under my belt, the students have taught me so much about the teenagers of today.

Well, at least the ones in the yee haw county I used to teach in.

Entitled. Some of them come from parents with money and don’t know what it means to struggle. Everything is handed to them; therefore, they expect teachers to simply hand them an “A,” especially after sweet talking the teacher. If you hear their conversations, they don’t have to work for their unnecessarily expensive backpacks or their new cars. If something doesn’t go their way, they will send a late night email or cry until they get their way. Too bad I don’t give in to it.

Apathy. They. Don’t. Care. Teenagers today simply do not care about literally anything except consuming useless TikToks and/or potentially becoming the next [disturbing] Andrew Tate. Like with entitlement, there’s a selfishness behind the apathy; if it does not benefit them, often times materialistically, they simply will not care, and they will be quick to let anyone know they do not care. My favorite saying as a teacher is “If you don’t care, I won’t care.” I will be quick to fail a student in a heartbeat; I am leaving the school I’m at with a student who has an overall grade of a 2. Yes, a 2.

Some students care about their grades more than they care about the content of the class, but at least they care about something. The world is on fire, and some teenagers don’t care. I feel like this generation of students can go into two categories: a group of people who don’t care and a group of people who advocate for anything and everything.

Attention Seekers. Some teenagers are not getting the attention they desire, especially at home. Therefore, they go to school and start acting like whiny kindergarteners. Trust me, I get it; they’re seeking something they’ve been missing their whole life. However, it gets frustrating when you’re expecting them to act like semi-mature almost adults, but as some of my students have pointed out, they’re mentally stuck in middle school. This definitely shows when they need extra attention and start showing out in class or interrupt you while you’re teaching to ask if you’ve heard Ariana Grande’s new song.

Manipulators. I know when someone is lying to me, and it’s so funny when the students think they’ve outsmarted me so they can go hide in the bathroom and vape (or do more extreme drugs). Again, there’s a selfishness to the manipulation; they will lie about something as serious as a grandma having surgery if it means having their phone out while there is a test. However, I will be quick to shut something down; I’ve learned they dislike nothing more than hearing “I don’t trust you.” Those are four words that stopped any manipulation they tried to throw my way.

Lost. At the end of the day, teenagers are just lost. They lost two years of normalcy and the necessary benefits of school because of COVID. They’ve experienced a lot of loss and have almost been the reason a parent loses a son/daughter. Teenagers just want to feel heard and seen but don’t know how to express themselves. They want to feel valued and appreciated and important. They want to do something great and meaningful with their lives but also know that their cellphone addictions won’t get them there. Teenagers have aspirations and goals and hope, but they don’t feel like they’re receiving the necessary support to get them to where they want to go.

At the end of the day, they feel stuck. They’re watching the world around them crumble, and they feel stuck. They’re impatiently waiting for adulthood but don’t realize they’re not as ready as think they are for it; no one is ever ready for the hardships of adulthood.

Given the way teenagers are being raised, I am nervous about the future, especially those who want to become doctors. At the same time, I am a little hopeful because there are genuine diamonds among all the teenage angst.

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