Tune In as The Today Show Goes Inside the Teenage Mind
This morning The Today Show kicked off a series called Inside the Teenage Mind, in which correspondent Jenna Bush Hager sits down with 10 teens ranging in age from 13 to 17, talking to them about everything from bullying and academic pressure to drugs and sex. The major takeaway: They feel there's no room to fail in today's achievement-focused academic environment ("you're trying to dictate your future"), and cell phones and social media have made it impossible to escape peer pressure or keep anything private.
It's worth a watch on your own (click the image above), but we've also compiled a few quick hits so you can get a sense of what type of conversations need to be happening at home or at school. And since the teens interviewed reinforced much of what we've already covered here at TeenBeing, you'll find links that can help you process a few of their most troubling revelations.
1. Cyberbullying is inescapable.
"You get it on your phone at school. You get it at home. It feels awful. You can't stop looking at it. You can read it over and over . If someone said go kill yourself, you can just read those words, over and over."
Learn More: Cyberbullies Use Brand-New Apps to Torment
2. Almost all have been offered drugs.
"Oh, yeah, [I've been offered drugs]. Especially at concerts, people do [molly]. They don't know much about it or what's in it, and they'll tell me it's a pure form of ecstasy or MDMA, and that it's safe—safer for you than Advil."
Learn More: Do You Know Molly?
3. They idealize ridiculously unrealistic body types.
"Girls are supposed to have a thigh gap. Everyone's obsessed with the thigh gap."
Learn More: Have You Heard About the Thigh Gap?
4. The same stereotypical sex pressures still exist.
"Oh, yes, [there's pressure to have sex]. Especially prom night, which is known as, 'oh, lose your virginity' or something."
Learn More: Let's Talk Before You Talk About Sex
They'll have another installment of the series tomorrow, and some of the teens' parents will join the hosts live in the studio. In the meantime, though, we'd love to hear what you think. Hager-Bush and the show's hosts seemed a little horrified by the world in which today's teens live—full of too-easy overshares and scary social media trends, like getting asked out over text ("things we didn't have to go through"). Personally, I think that it's silly to get caught up in game-changing technology when so many of the core issues are the same as they've always been. Whether peer pressure or bullying is coming face to face or via Facebook, teens need support, encouragement, trust and self-confidence to make the right decisions. So as always, we suggest that you talk about these issues with the teens in your life, but don't talk at them. Treat them like the almost-adults that they are—capable of their own opinions, helped along by your wisdom—and they might just step up and act accordingly.
Have your own thoughts? Sound off below.