Kids Today: They're More Self-Aware Than You Think
As I’m writing this, I have stitches in my chin – five, to be exact. Despite learning that my body can’t handle a mixture of low blood sugar and high stress years ago, I obviously failed to remember this fun tidbit when I fainted and hit the bathtub. This is my first stitch experience that I can remember, so I did a few Google searches on what to do.
Searching lead me to Yahoo! Answers – which you might know as being a key source of entertainment based on some of the wacky questions people ask (for example: “Can your baby get pregnant if you have sex while pregnant?”) (For the record, no. Not at all. Please tell me you knew that.)
I smiled when I saw the end – don’t tell me to deal with it, “because I’m a teenage girl and I’m going to be self conscious.” I’m not a teenage girl, and I was looking up the same issue for a similar reason. And unlike the original poster, I am married and nearly 30 – and still feared the outcome of having a small, completely normal procedure be visible. While it’s not an end-of-the-world situation, I could still relate to the emotion (and fear!) behind the post entirely.
This girl knew that most of her responses would end with people telling her she was beautiful regardless of the stitches, but wanted some standard advice to make herself feel better about the situation. She only sought out some suggestions to boost her own self confidence – something we all do every once in awhile. (If we didn’t, beauty magazines might be severely in danger.)
But, the reversal is true as well – many teenagers have similar thoughts and opinions as adults, despite the fact that they’re constantly discredited based on their age. A lot of pre-teens are super well-rounded individuals based on their own vision of the world around them, and their maturity to handle some really tough situations. In fact, kids are pretty darn smart.
Take, for example, mega-hot single Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (son of television’s Alan Thicke. You remember Growing Pains, right?) I heard about the song, and decided to check it out on YouTube. Little did I know that the (explicit) video was primarily Robin strutting around with naked ladies, making claims about his manhood. If you’ve never seen it, honestly – that’s all the video is. The clean video isn’t much better – everything is pretty similar, except the women are wearing a minimal amount of clothing.
A YouTube video series called Teens React, created by the Fine Brothers, interviewed teenagers during and after their viewing of the clean version. And while most of them agreed that the song kept their attention (“Good thing the song’s good, because the video’s not very good,” one of the teens said) they all had somewhat negative reactions to what they were seeing on screen. While one boy admitted that the unclean version was entertaining, he was clear in saying that the nude models shouldn’t be something any girl should aspire to be. Wait – teen boys who show disapproval based on half naked girls flaunting around a pop icon?! The stereotype has been broken!
Early on, Robin Thicke stated that the video was meant to show everything that was derogatory towards women. Thicke went on to say it was a pleasure to degrade women. “I’ve never gotten to do that before, I’ve always respected women.” While the married family man later took back the comment and said he was joking, one teenager who was interviewed said that kids might not realize it was a joke, and grow up to think that when a woman says no, she really means yes.
Thicke even tried to explain that his song was “a feminist movement”, stating the following in an interview with the Today show:
One male teen in the interview summed up his feelings on Thicke’s statement in a single sentence – “He should just talk about being respectful towards women.” Right on, dude.
While opinions differed based on whether or not the video was truly offensive, most of them seemed to recognize entertainment from reality – but were fully aware that the more that people try to push the limit with the disclaimer of “it’s just a song”, the more the lines between the two might get – well – blurred.
Back when I was a kid, being allowed to have Alanis Morissette‘s Jagged Little Pill in my house was a big deal – I didn’t even know what her scattered “dirty” lyrics meant at the time. Even though music has gotten much more outwardly raunchy since, it doesn’t mean that its teenage audience will completely get the wrong message from it. As one interviewee said, she watched Game of Thrones, which has nudity, and doesn’t think anything of it.
So, have no fear adults. It’s totally normal for you to occasionally slip into the mindset of a teenager, as it’s totally normal for a teenager to have the same thought process as a full fledged adult. Just because a video might have flashy hashtags and topless women doesn’t mean your kid will think it’s morally correct. And kids can be insanely smart, aware, and intelligent enough to stay off of your lawn. Despite the years between us, we’re not all that different from each other.