Warning, this is a sad question... 

Do young people, adolescents and young adults, do they have a more difficult time now than previous generations?

When your community is the Internet, where your self-esteem depends on # of followers, unrestrained violence on the news, jobs unstable...on and on. What if we humankind just really need a few young years with a feeling of safety, to strengthen us for the 'real' world?

Eavesdropping on a Blurt Q yesterday, I learned of the HIKIKOMORI; young people who refuse school, retreat to their rooms and may not come out for decades. Hikikomori were first documented in Japan, 1.5 million youngsters so the loss in national productivity is huge. But now they are seen in Korea, Italy, the USA, Great Britain...so I am concerned; are the new generations okay?

Yesterday I also learned the word ANOMIE, "breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community, resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values."


12 Answers

Didge Doo Profile
Didge Doo answered

About 1990 I attended a lecture by an Apache mystic named Oh Shinnah. Much of what she said was great; much was obviously fabricated. But relative to this question she said, "Our teenagers are slipping through the gaps in time." I thought she was spot on.

Is it any worse now than when I was young? Undoubtedly. There was no drug culture back then and it was even unusual for kids to drink booze. These days both are commonplace and, again apropos to your question, they boast about it on YouTube and social media.

Perhaps the two biggest problems modern kids face are sex and marriage.

They see por n sites on the Internet, they run into explicit sex on TV and at the movies, and they think, "Well, why not?" And that's hard to explain because they don't have the maturity or the experience to understand why not.

And marriage? We used to look for somebody to share our lives with. Now divorce is running close to 50% and far too many marriages don't last through the first year.

So, yes, Virginia: I think today's kids, in spite of their apparent advantages, have far too many pitfalls to negotiate, and it's so easy to take a misstep.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Dozy...do you feel the surrounding community filled in some of the gaps in your family life? How was it that you turned out okay in the long run?
Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
I just blundered along.

I never thought about where I picked things up. I always read a lot and although it was mostly fiction, books (and movies) in those days almost always had good triumphing over evil. I guess I just wanted to be with the winning side.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Dozy! Come to think of it, now that you mention it, I also got a huge amount of my life orientation from books...I had forgotten that...
Very powerful...and I am so glad for you, so grateful.
Ancient One Profile
Ancient One answered

I remember reading a SCI FI  book back in the 1950s, (actually I read more than one). The book told a story where society had retreated into their homes. Communicstions and all work was accomplished by machines and what we call computers today. There was no social interaction. No one actually saw or spoke to another human. Everyone lived in isolation. Finally a farmer was forced to do the unthinkable and leave his underground home, go to the surface and repair a small machine caught between two rocks. He was the first in a hundred gnerations to actually touch the surface of the panet.

Levi F. Profile
Levi F. answered

Young people have some different problems than previous generations, but in many ways there are more similarities that due to collective generational blindness we don't see. And many of the differences are simply alternate ways of experience the same underlying anxieties and turmoil that all young people face as they enter adulthood. You look back at the 60s and you see young people rebelling against conformity, protesting against political oppression, experimenting with drugs and sex...it doesn't sound all too different than today, even if the technology and music were different. History repeats itself, it goes in cycles, but due to our limited time on earth, we can't fully realize it, so we convince ourselves that we were better off and the current generation is doomed and we resign ourselves to defeatism, thus perpetuating the cycle.

So no, I don't think young people have it worse, but in certain ways we do have it different (social media and cyber bullying are two related examples; there are others), and it's important to recognize those differences if you hope to connect with young people and help us navigate and resolve our issues.

Fortis Paradise Profile
Fortis Paradise answered

Actually I was having this talk with my Mother the other day. At least in the culture that I'm living (I think the answer to your question varies for every culture) , people who want to be themselves have it harder today, because being accepted in the society now depends on how you dress and who you associate with, regardless of age. and that is the direct result of social networks and power of likes.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Thank you Fortis Paradise, as I recall you are yourself quite young...
It is a good point that the experience will vary with different cultures.
Yin And Yang Profile
Yin And Yang answered

My dear Virginia,

What worries me is if something happens to the internet or cell phone towers. I mean we (the ones before the tech craze) know how to add, multiply, divide and subtract in our head. "Spell check" for us is looking up a word in the dictionary. We know how to research in a book. We know how to fill out an envelope and mail something. We know how to pick up a pen or pencil and write hand writing not just type or keyboard. It worries me that the young ones may not know how to do some of the more simpler things if technology were to crash one day. :0(

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
ty, Y&Y...that is something which indeed happened very quickly...
PJ Stein
PJ Stein commented
When I lived in KS, I went to Curves, and since I went in the middle of the day, the other ladies were a generation older than me. We were talking one day and they said they were scared for the generation coming up because they didn't know how to cook or bake from scratch. They didn't know how to garden, or can. If there were something apocalyptic they would not be able to survive. I told them that I didn't know a lot of that either, but unlike the younger generation, who uses YouTube to learn how to d tings, I did know how to break into the library and find the information I needed.
Yin And Yang
Yin And Yang commented
THAT is scary to! O_O I had not thought of that! I know how to OPEN a can! I do not know how to can! :0(
Pepper pot Profile
Pepper pot answered

My partner and I were talking about this the other night. With the fondness of our growing up, playing out in the street, making camps in the woods, in our mind, we said that we wouldn't want to be growing up in this generation. I think the obsession with social media and how they look rather than who they are is going to be the cause of a large generation with disassociation and eating disorders.  They are being introduced sex at an early age just look at their role models on MTV and in sports. No family dinners, lack of after school clubs, it certainly is a fragmented society.

Sigmund Freud Profile
Sigmund Freud answered

I think every generation has had their own set of problems. To compare the current generation to the past may not be the best comparision because there have been so many changes to the ways the youth today live in society compared to older generations.

The development of a more technological based/media-oriented society has caused today's kids to have different desires, aspirations and lifestyles. The kids in this generation have learned to adapt to this "new" society by either choosing to follow all the latest trends, veering against the norm and staying in more, or trying to balance both lives. I wouldn't necessarily say that the people choosing to be more secluded or introverted have it bad. There is a very strong sense of community that can be found on the internet so in a way, even though these kids seem secluded from society, they are not. There are many people they find on different forms of social media who relate to them. I agree that rejection from social groups can affect the identity of kids but, again this is a new generation where kids will face different challenges and benefits.

Just like how kids in the 80s were facing their own challenges, society is always changing so the way the new generation interacts with one another will definitely also change. Change is scary and at times we may think the millenials have it worse but, the one thing that is constant in all these years of change is that we keep moving forward. Maybe the answer to this question wasn't meant to be a sad one at all :)

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
That is lovely, Sigmund Freud...I am smiling at the possibility/probability you mention, of non-sadness.
And yes, I had not thought of that, but doubtless the 'hikikomori' are still connected into life...but through the Intenet!

Thank you...
otis campbell Profile
otis campbell answered

Young people all want white collar jobs and big money. To me they couldnt handle blue coller jobs and are a bunch of babied wimps

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Aldrich Ames
Aldrich Ames commented
Ancient One
Ancient One commented
Otis in their defense I know many young people in blue collar jobs. They are the exception because they were raised by honest hard working parents. Granted they are small in number.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Otis yes I see your point...still if so many are so frightened...the article I read on hikikomori said their withdrawal was akin to PTSD!
Tom  Jackson Profile
Tom Jackson answered

My wife told me this story this year:

She was talking to our youngest adult son a few years ago and they got to talking about "drugs."

She asked him how he avoided getting involved with drugs.

His response was---"Can you imagine me trying to explain to dad why I was doing drugs?"

Kids are generally pretty sharp.

As a parent, I have found that if you live consistently according to your standards, convey your expectations for your children to them and show them how your standards have great value, and then show them how to live according to them, things seem to work out exceedingly well.

So to answer your question:  No, not really, just different challenges.

Good parenting is the best answer to any problems.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
THAT is lovely Tom...and such a poignant story to illustrate.

What do you think of the hikikomori? Every generation is different, changing...but learning of them is really what caused me to wonder...as a young person I could not wait to get out into the world and start exploring - and my childhood was not easy, at least for me it was not...but just cannot imagine going into seclusion then!
Tom  Jackson
Tom Jackson commented
I heard about this a number of years ago as a phenomenon, but didn't recognize the name for it.

The anecdote in my answer to this question is also an antidote to one of the three proposed causes of hikikomori as per a Wikipedia Article: #2---i.e., "The inability of Japanese parents to recognize and act upon the youth's slide into isolation; soft parenting; or codependence between mother and son, known as amae in Japanese."


Good parents can "fix" a majority of a child's problems; bad parenting tends to simple add to the problems the child will have to face.

I was like you when as a young person---couldn't wait to get involved in the world. A meaningful comment about temperament might be enlightening here---wish I had one offhand.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Hmmm...you know, temperament would HAVE to be a factor...
Reluctance/inability of families to recognize, also...
Matt Radiance Profile
Matt Radiance answered

In my point of view this generation is doing very well. Every generation and society has it's cons and pros. Many of them are actually the same and many of them as it expected goes different.

I'm firmly agree with Levi F. I don't really think any previous generation can be called better than today. Most of the issues are the same. We can talk about each issue all day and their underlying similarity. The only factor that previous generation having a hard time to understand is the "internet age" which is normal. Internet is one of the greatest discoveries. Unfortunately this is our youth who are unable to take the best out of it. The generation is really fine, but the struggle with social network and how new generation are adapting to it is concerning beyond no doubt and a huge challenge. What it takes to handle that is education and guidance step by step. It is not going to be a huge issue if we start fixing the glitches in the adapting culture. Also the issue of self-esteem is not because of internet. It is because people today are way too judgmental which effects everything in our lives one way or another also bullying and psychological pressures which the lack of understanding from parents boost the worst conditions.

To make my point, for instance, Pepper Pot make an example of issues such as drug, sex and role models. Take a real good look back, most of the music bands in 60's 70's 80's made their record on weeds and being high above. I'm wondering if bands such as The Doors are really clean and inspirational for an ideal life ? Smoking and living sex scandal everyday. Were they really good models ? Or bands like Nirvana which end up with making suicide ? And i'm sure Marilyn Monroe is not the sex symbol of this generation!!

And a question to all! Can you name a generation where nobody is concerned about jobs, money, employees and finances ? I don't think so. Since the trading age of objectives to invention of coins and later the printed currency. The world is working and constantly worrying about money.

So just like any generation. We have our own issues  but we're doing okay. However, we can be better. We must work on it and create a guidance to our path.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Dear Matt, that which you have described is indeed just what I have always been assuming...

I think what tipped my own concern was learning of the hikikomori; young people who at some point just refuse school, retreat to their rooms and don't leave the room for months, years, maybe never. When you are young, there is a great enthusiasm for life, for exploring the world...and these are not small numbers of people, but in the millions.

I hear what you are saying, but at the same time when there are SO many... we must consider something might just be too hard for them. One article did, in fact, attribute this to a kind of PTSD...if so, we need to look at that, and quickly, so it does not continue.

Sigmund Freud, above, pointed out the hikikomori would have Internet, which is huge as a way to keep connected. Still, maybe we DO need to ask if the young are okay, or if we of the older generation might need to be concerned.
Evan Zamora Profile
Evan Zamora answered

you see this generation is messed up, all the drugs roaming around, all the kids saying how they had sex with a girl, all the music talking about sex drugs and violence, all the riches buying the not needed just to show off to the old poor, all the teens who can't breath without WIFI, all the people on the technology thats makes us lazy and light, all the racist people killing and raping other races. Kids these days just can't realize what their fate is, I see what my future will be, and I'm only 13, practicing hard soccer to be good enough to join a huge soccer team like arsenal, real madrid, athletico madrid or even manchester united. One day kids will wish they could rewinded time to fix the mistakes they've done. Its time to get serious, whats the point of showing off your new phone when next week you break it, ask mom for another one, but won't. Then what will you show off. Sometimes i wish the world would just end cause theres just more madness than sadness and happiness. People today are ruined by technology yet we're getting more ruined as time passes with the new iPhone coming out each year. Look at the mirror and fantasize your self 10 years later kids. Who is it?

Twallgirl Wallace Profile

when we think about today's youth it is a very sad situation that they find themselves in. Unfortunately we live in a time characterized in the bible as critical times hard to deal with. So the moral decline that we have been experiencing from generation to generation is because of this. The bible also tells of a wonderful future hope. It tells us at Revelation 21:4: And He will wipe out every tear from their eye and death will be no more, neither will mourning, nor outcry,  nor pain be anymore, the former things have passed away!. So although things may seem bleak, we have a bright future ahead for us and our children!

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