Summer break sounds amazing in June, but by August the teens have grown restless. They're broke, they've got all these hormones that they can't properly act on, and Mom's at work.
Reenactment photo courtesy the author
Summer break sounds amazing in June, but by August the teens have grown restless. They're broke, they've got all these hormones that they can't properly act on, and Mom's at work. Today's teens are left at home with little more than technology and other teens to keep them company. It's with this sense of boredom and the possibility of danger in mind that we turn to our top story This Week in Teens.
A 15-year-old boy in Florida got a Snapchat of his cousin holding a stack of cash, so he and four of his friends decided to rob his cousin's house. They would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for his cousin's pesky dogs, and the fact that the rest of his family was home. The teens ran from the house, taking a laptop with them, but were caught by police—because that's what happens when your aunt sees you robbing her house. This story is truly a perfect encapsulation of the way teens live now. The traditional teen traits of confusion-fueled idiocy and responding to the pressures of capitalism with petty crime are compounded by technology. Snapchat, an app that's wildly popular among young people, is being valued at around $10 billion. Teens are an instrumental part of the app's success, so there's a certain poetry in the idea that the app is inspiring them to commit crimes for cash.
Check out the rest of This Week in Teens:
-The impressively-named website Action News Now reported that a 16-year-old in Anderson, California, died after what the teen thought was cocaine turned out to be poison. Following this incident, the Anderson Police Department issued a statement telling parents to "Talk to your kids. Monitor their lives as much as possible. Educate them. Communicate with them. Make every effort to steer them in the right direction." While your This Week in Teens columnist is usually pretty skeptical of anti-drug rhetoric, they're right. Teens really have no business taking cocaine. For parents who want to talk to their kids but don't know how, we've helpfully compiled the following real facts behind cocaine use.
The energy drink version isn't much better than the real thing. Photo via Flickr user Lauri Rantala
Cocaine is, by most measures, a pretty unjustifiable drug to use. Its production destroys the environment and its sale goes to support murderous drug cartels. Plus, it's expensive—on minimum wage, a small bag of cocaine costs like eight hours! And here's why people take cocaine: It makes other people who want cocaine hang out with you, it's fun to go into bar bathrooms with another person, and wasting money feels good. Cocaine activates the same pleasure centers in your brain as breaking champagne glasses or taking an Uber. Teens who want to use drugs should stick with pot and low-grade psychedelics, drugs that coincide with their unique ability to identify hypocrites and see the world as it really is. If teens want to feel wired, they should use energy drinks or Adderall, two fairly affordable substances that they already have easy access to. There's a time and a place for cocaine, and that time is almost never—except maybe just once more (I mean honestly I haven't heard this Interpol song in a decade and it really holds up—you can really feel that bass line).
This teen needs more sleep. Photo via Flickr user Sheila Steele
-Adults use cocaine to stay up later than their day jobs and five 7&7s would otherwise allow, but you know who's naturally really, really good at staying up late? Teens. Unfortunately, they eventually have to turn off the Playstation and go to bed since they have school and all. Now the American Academy of Pediatrics wants schools to start later than 8:30 AM, so that students will have a better chance of getting the recommended eight-to-ten hours of sleep. Well-rested students could mean better grades, higher test scores, and lower incidences of depression, obesity, and sleep-induced car crashes. But changing school times means shifting the schedules of teachers, after-school sports, and parents, so it's unlikely that this recommendation will be implemented any time soon. Which is too bad, because our teens aren't just going to decide to start going to bed early. As sleep researcher Dr. Judith Owens notes—in what is surely an homage to Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55"—"The average teenager can't fall asleep at 11."
-“A lack of sleep is just another factor that contributes to teens’ high-risk behavior,” is something that a pessimist might say. My glass is half full of Monster, and I choose to see high-risk behavior as high-reward behavior. Teens in Hong Kong climbed atop a skyscraper to eat a banana and take a selfie, resulting in what some are calling the "world's scariest selfie" and what Google News is calling over 100 articles. Enough has been written about whether or not selfies are a vapid reflection of youth culture’s emptiness, and even the subculture of climbing dangerous things to take selfies has been documented, but what no one seems to get at is the fundamental lameness of selfies. To wit: at one point in this "most dangerous selfie" video, a teen extends his phone with one of those wildly embarrassing retractable "selfie sticks." Sure, climbing on top of a large building in order to take a photo of yourself is scary, but it's far from the devil-may-care attitude that made society admire teens in the first place. In this sense, skyscraper selfies are like longboarding: moderately dangerous, and not very cool.
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