Ugh. Teens these days. They don’t smoke cigarettes, drink excessively, or have risky sex anymore. In fact, youngsters have been adopting some seemingly healthy habits very early on in life, especially in Europe.
A 2013-2014 survey of European teens by the World Health Organization revealed that the majority of 15-year-olds who use tobacco and alcohol has dropped significantly when compared to results from a similar 2009 study.
For instance, the number of 15-year-olds who had their first smoke at age 13 or younger fell from 24 percent to 17 percent. Meanwhile, the amount of 15-year-olds who reported being drunk at least twice in their lifetime fell from 32 percent to 22 percent.
Hooking up is pretty uncool now, too. The Daily Mail reported today that teenage sex is down from 29 percent to 24 percent for boys and 23 percent to 17 percent for girls. Dieting and exercise, on the other hand, has increased amongst minors.
One in four 15-year-old females have reported taking steps to lose weight, but boys workout more. This trend stems from the fact that girls are more likely to think they are fat during teenage years but boys are more likely to actually be fat. In fact, girls get stressed and depressed more easily than boys based solely upon physical appearance woes.
If anything, this is the crucial downside to these so-called better changes. Society is still pressuring young girls to stress about unrealistic beauty standards and boys are still eating crappy foods and playing too many video games.
And while it’s great that cigarettes, alcohol, and sex aren’t as popular with teens anymore, these changes in opinion could be a sign of greater social issues. After all, this trifecta of bad stuff has signified social interaction for years. Why didn’t this survey ask teens how often they use their phone or go online during a given day? Do kids even talk anymore or do they just text?
British sociologist Susan Greenfield wrote way back in 2010 that UK kids spend at least 7 hours in front of screens every day. Then, in 2011, child psychologist Melissa Ortega told the Huffington Post that devices cause kids to struggle socially.
“Another thing I’m noticing is they may have trouble initiating interactions, those small talk situations,” Ortega explained. “They don’t have as much experience doing it because they’re not engaging in it ever. They always have something else going on.”
Factor in obsessive dieting or obesity and it clear that teens need to make better social choices, just as much as they need to avoid smoking, drinking, and sexing.