A new study of today’s teenagers contains both encouraging and troubling findings for parents, pastors, and youth group leaders concerned with reaching “Generation Z.”
According to the research, teenagers in the early 2010s tried alcohol later and had sex far less often compared with their predecessors: About 54 percent of high-school students in 1991 reported having had sex, while only 41 percent did in the early 2010s. For student pastors who have been fighting the war against partying, pregnancies and STDs, this is encouraging news; however, the results seem to come with a cost.
Swapping Risky Behavior for Different Risky Behavior
Generation Z students (those born between the early 1990s and mid-2000s) are less likely to drive, work for pay, go on dates, or socialize without their parents. While at home, students are largely glued to their smartphones. They are highly active on social media sites that create an illusion of community that research shows actually increases isolation.
In an essay for The Atlantic, Jean M. Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen, warns about the effect smartphone obsession is having on teens: “the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever."