August 17, 2012

Teenagers: Fascinating Facts Fridays

The bargain bin at Barnes & Noble can be a great place to find little treasures, let's call it a dock in a sea of worthy reading options. Sometimes I can't find good material with all the choices. I know people who swear by clothing stores like TJ Maxx. I walk in and see chaos. I don't know where to start.

In a bookstore, I have my favorite sections, but that only means I'm missing opportunities in other areas. The bargain bin gives me a chance to see some options.

The other day, I picked up Dough Lennox's The Little Book of Answers. First, I'm an inquisitive person by nature. Second, I figured it would help me with my Fun Facts Fridays (now renamed Fascinating Facts Fridays, because I realized all my facts weren't "fun"). Third, books like these make perfect bathroom reading. For those that don't quite get that last statement, maybe my house was the only one in the universe that was always stocked with books and magazines.

I opened up to a random page, and what did I see...

How did teenagers become a separate culture?

I write about teenagers, I have one and two more on the way, and I was once a teenager not that long ago. Yeah, a Friday topic with some meat. Let's call it character research.


According to The Little Book of Answers: The word teenager first appeared in 1941... Until then, there was only childhood and adulthood. At the age of thirteen, a girl became a woman and could marry or enter the workforce and a boy became a man. Today, teenagers are treated as children with suppressed adult urges.

(My personal opinion: a lot of teenagers are really treated as adults with suppressed child urges. I want my teens to embrace youthful exuberance for as long as they can without too many adult situations ruining it.)

Most countries have an age of majority, ranging in age from 12 to 21, where "minors cease to legally be considered children." (I'd love to be on the committee trying to determine a magic age where a person is capable of adult decisions. I think, instead, there should be a basic adult skills test that should be passed. Okay, I say that tongue in cheek. Mostly.)

Some statistics

Percentage of teenagers 13-17 who can name the city where the US Constitution was written (Philadelphia): 25. Percentage of teenagers 13-17 who know where you find the zip code 90210 (Beverly Hills): 75 ( Survey conducted by the National Constitution Center (NCC), Philadelphia, 1998.) Source

According to the Center for a New American Dream, children and teens are exposed to over 25,000 ads in a year, and companies spend over $17 billion a year on marketing toward children and teens. Source

Body Image
In Depression Cookies, two characters suffer with anorexia, a chronic mental illness that affects many teenagers and has deeply touched my life.

• The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.3
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.12
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.13
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).


The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. Source

2007 National Endowment of the Arts Reading Study Findings
  • Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nine percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.
  • On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.

  • Teen Reading Trends
    (2012, from Sarah Flowers, President of the Young Adult Library Services Association, Source)
    "I think dystopias and post-apocalypse books will continue to be popular, especially with the Hunger Games movie coming out in March. There are several trilogies that are still just on the first book, like Divergent, by Veronica Roth, and Ashes, by Ilsa Bick (which has the added benefit of zombie-like creatures!). And I would expect to continue to see steampunk. Paranormal romance is still somewhat popular, but vampires are definitely fading, from what I’m hearing."

    Social Media
    More than 90% of teenagers are connected to the Internet. About 68% of teens regularly text, 51% visit Facebook and about 11% send or receive tweets every day. Many teens, 41%, admit they’re “addicted” to their devices. Around 36% of teens who responded said they wish “they could go back to a time when there was no Facebook.” (Source)

    Understanding Teenagers

    Teen Slang
    During my research, I found a great site, Love to Know Teens. There I learned some of the following (for a full list, click here):

    * Cray cray - Something is really crazy, no cool
    * Hater - Someone who is jealous or out to ruin a good time (they spew haterade)
    * Mackin - To put on your game (example, flirting with more than one girl to flirt versus actually getting the girl)
    * Swagg - individuality and coolness
    Note: One of my daughters used swagg recently, and I wondered what kind of free gifts they were talking about. Once they explained it, it made sense... short for swagger.

    Whatever happened to, "Gag me with a spoon"?

    Teen Text Terms
    From Time, I found a list of 92 Teen Text Terms. A sampling:

    * 2Day - Today (really? Because To is so much harder to type than 2.)
    * BOL - Be on Later
    * DWBH - Don't Worry, Be Happy
    * HAK - Hugs and Kisses
    * JSYK - Just So You Know

    I'm exhausted. OMG, BOL.

    My gut tells me this is just post one of Fascinating Facts Friday focusing on teenagers.

    What fascinates you most about teens?


    Susan Oloier said...

    Very fascinating indeed.
    I've read that the teenage brain experiences synaptic pruning that gives the toddler years a run for its money.
    Teens are becoming independent, think they know so much, but are oh-so naive to the ways of the world (which is what I find so intriguing about them). Innocence mixed with the journey into losing the innocence. A time we can never recapture.

    Carolina said...

    I have two teens and everyday I learn some new texting language or slang. They tell me to stop being so 'cray cary' ALL the time! They won't tell me what YOLO means....I've asked to many times and they tell me they have told me, but

    ShaunaKelleyWrites said...

    Those body image stats are terrifying. Its frightening to think that this might be getting lost amidst worries of childhood obesity... Both are legitimate concerns, but if girls hate their bodies by age 10?!?!

    Unknown said...

    I'm a youth group leader, so I'm regularly dealing with 13-18 year old kids, but I still couldn't claim to understand them. So much has changed since I was a teenager.

    Some of these facts were very interesting, especially the body image facts. One of our youth group kids is suffering from bulimia right now, and it's difficult to work through these types of issues.

    Thanks for the information, and thanks also for visiting my blog today!

    Elise Fallson said...

    Sometimes I feel like sticking my head in the sand. I'm so worried about the teen years when my kids get there that I don't even know where to start. I'll surly be calling you for advice. In fact, I'll have you on speed dial.

    Tia Bach said...

    Susan, I don't doubt it! I love what you said about the journey. So true.

    Carolina, Now I'm intrigued about YOLO!

    Shauna, I thought so, too. :-(

    Mike, Thanks for visiting back, and kudos to you for working with youth. It's much needed and certainly not easy!

    Elise, I'm happy to share whatever I learn. Let's hope I survive it long enough to share. ;-)

    Jo Michaels said...

    This post had me cracking up. I was reading snips of it to TBBITW and he was laughing, too. Thanks for sharing, Tia! WRITE ON!

    Shah Wharton said...

    I recently looked after my nephew for a minth - he's 17/18 and full of himself. Very handsome and charming he gets a lot of attention and irritated me so much with his 'Yeah, yeah yeah' and "She's so hot, I'd bang the back outta that.' and It's sick man,' (meaning amazing). I thought HAK was XOX ? Maybe it's a UK/US thing?

    Fascinating post :)

    Julie Glover said...

    Awesome facts, Tia. I heard "swagg" a lot at camp this summer, but I remember "gag me with a spoon" from my teenage days too. I think what fascinates me most right now is how MUCH of the boys boxers I'm seeing right now. I know this makes me sound old but...pull your pants up, buddy! Thank goodness the big trend when I was in school was polos, jeans, and penny loafers.

    Tia Bach said...

    Jo, I'll call it character study, since I write about teenagers, but it was also self-preservation study since I have one and 2 on the way! :-)

    Shah, Scary! ;-) I'm sure there is geographical slang, even from town to town.

    Julie, Esprit, Guess Jeans, Tretorns... I could go on and on... were mine!

    Unknown said...

    What a great post! I especially love this: "I'd love to be on the committee trying to determine a magic age where a person is capable of adult decisions." There are days when, at almost 35, I feel incapable of making adult decisions. Expecting my 13 yr old to? Uh-uh. And thanks for the slang. I LOLd at your "whatever happened to gag me with a spoon?" comment. ;-)

    Tia Bach said...

    Melissa, I so agree. How am I expected to help my daughters when I'm still finding myself some days?! ;-)