This century has brought significant changes to the world. Technological progress has boosted both mobility and industrial production levels, while globalization has enhanced communication around the world and made socio-political ideologies exchanges possible. For example, one can refer to the political revolutions in different parts of the globe; the Arab Spring and the continuing political upheaval in Syria, in particular. Taking these, and many other factors, into consideration, one could say that social processes today and those about a hundred years ago, are almost incomparable.
At the same time, particular social groups, such as teenagers, become overexposed to the effects of these socio-political and technological changes. This fact can be easily noticed when evaluating modern youths’ preoccupations, hobbies and behavior, as well as analyzing how they use leisure time, compared to their counterparts a century ago. This paper compares the daily lives of today’s teenagers and the lives of teenagers a century ago. Today’s teenagers use many types of technological gadgets, such as, computers, TV sets, smart phones and tablets, both at school, and at home.
They also seem to be studying with the help of technology. Actually, the latter now sometimes takes the place that had, traditionally, been left to parents and teachers. This refers not only to the teaching material, but also to some social and communication skills. Young people have become one of the main target audiences for social media, and waste a lot of time on social networks instead of using it to conduct more constructive activities. Goodstein writes that “…teenagers have captured the imagination of marketers as the most coveted, yet fickle, demographic”.
Modern teenagers are also more educated than a hundred years ago. One of the effects of an easily accessed education is that youths have become more dynamic and socially active. They now tend to question, and test, the various norms and traditions of society. By so doing, youths have become a source of societal change in many countries; recall the boycotts of university students in different countries. Due to the fact that teenagers, a hundred years ago, lacked the access to quality education, they were not so active. Actually, they were more conservative and adhered to the social norms laid down by society.
Now, talking about the old times, teenagers a century ago had very little, or even no, access to technology. They acquired knowledge from parents and through extensive reading, and used their free time helping their parents around the house, playing outdoors, and so on. Education, back then, was a facet of society that wasn’t highly emphasized. Basically, access to education was considered a privilege for male children; and besides, financial difficulties, in many households, did not allow parents to send their children to school.
With regard to girls, societal norms a century ago, in the main, would hardly allow them to perform the same roles as their male counterparts. Managing a household was considered an appropriate position for women; therefore, girls were mostly confined to the domestic sphere. However, female movements around the globe, in more modern times, have helped alleviate the plight of girls, so that today’s female teenagers can freely explore the same opportunities, and careers, as young men.
According to Maccoby, “… more girls, than boys, reported that their parents had encouraged them to attend college”. Therefore, we can observe increased gender equality among teenagers today, than it was a hundred years ago. Thus, one can notice significant differences between today’s teenagers and teenagers a century ago. Today’s youths are more accustomed to technology than their counterparts a hundred years ago; they are more educated compared to teenagers a century ago. Finally, there is more gender equality, in terms of access to opportunities, among modern teenagers.