The news has a way of keeping us all feeling a little bit hopeless - we totally get it. So consider this article a change of pace.
Chloe x Halle (shoutout to our new Ariel!) sing about young people doing better than many of us give them credit for in their hit single "The Kids Are Alright" - but how alright are they, really? As adults it's easy to be suspicious, but Reddit user kabirbhatia04 is here to ease your fears. They asked:
And honestly, it turns out they're doing pretty well guys!
A Shrinking Minority
As a general rule they are more understanding and forgiving if somebody is different. Don't get me wrong, some of them are still jerks to those kids, but it is a shrinking minority.
My girlfriend is a teacher and she is amazed at how uncool drinking and driving is. Kids are like "That's stupid you will kill someone..."
They literally make fun of kids who do it! In my day EVERYONE drove drunk.
Very positive change.
Rural High School Stereotypes
I am a teacher at a high school in Missouri. All of the Stereotypes you hear/see in rural high schools are still prevalent. However, almost every 'group' works harder academically. It is no longer cool to get F's and fail. Even country boys who will never leave the farm or go to college care about getting passing grades.
Empathy And Adaptability
I asked my wife (primary teacher) and she says empathy and adaptability are the two traits she has seen dramatically improve over her last 15 years. Kids seem to be better at putting themselves in another's position and understanding their situation. Also they seem to be much more flexible with changes whether in the classroom or the outside world.
They are generally independent and self-reflective. When I first started teaching I thought I had simply lucked out getting students who were consistently bright, engaged and curious, but having now taught at 3 different universities on 2 different continents, it seems to be a general trend across universities.
They are also, as noted elsewhere, generally kind and empathetic, and both my male and female students are usually pretty emotionally mature.
The 8 year olds I teach really make a huge deal about plastic. We watched the Blue Planet 2 episode with them and since then they have been so mindful and really want to protect the oceans.
Parents Don't Suck
Kids are openly kind and loving regarding their parents. I had a tough football player in class once say: "I love my mom, she's my best friend!" I see the old "Ugh my parents suuuuuuck!" mentality falling by the wayside recently.
My Debt-Laden Generation
A realization that any sort of specialization is a good thing and that a 4-year college isn't necessary for everyone (lots of my students want to go to tech/trade school or apprenticeships). They're learning from my debt-laden generation.
I teach on the college level. From what I can tell, many of them seem more open to having a variety of kind of friends. Where I teach has a big hook up and party culture, but they seem to have genuine cross-gender friendships despite that, and in my opinion, that's been good for them.
This, of course, is dependent on who's available to you in terms of "variety." For example, I went to a very racially diverse undergrad and had all kinds of friends. My students go to a very very white college and do not have racial diversity in their friendships as a result, but I think a fair amount that is structural.
I also feel kind of like the bad guy here, but it's interesting that men in fraternities came up in the comments, because a lot of times they are the exception with my students. They'll really only hang out with their brothers, and depending on the fraternity, can be really awful to women.
The high school students I work with today seem significantly more emotionally intelligent than those of my generation, especially the young men. They are aware of their own feelings and are better at separating their feelings from fact (i.e., they're more likely to say "I'm feeling X,Y,Z, negative emotion right now" than "Ugh, this teacher just hates me, what an *ss.") They're also better at seeing and accommodating emotions in other people. There's more awareness of and sympathy for mental health issues.
Here's an illustration: The other day, some of the students I coach were conversing and one young man asked how frequently they had a good cry. They all answered. And he said, "I think I'm overdue for a good cry," and his peers started suggesting good movies to induce tears.
It was an utterly shocking scene for me! Great, but nothing I would ever have expected.
Kids can be stunningly introspective and empathetic when you ask them to talk about their interpersonal issues. There's a real effort to perspective-taking that goes beyond what I encountered at that age.
Also, the students I work with have some selection bias, to be fair, but the ones I encounter as a whole care a lot about current events. It's like it's actually cool to know and care what's going on, and it's uncool not to. This is very different from how I grew up. I think a lot of them would agree with the statement "Being smart is cool and learning new things is fun" which seems simplistic, but isn't true to everyone. I think it's related to the pressure to get into college. This pressure to be more well-rounded in your interests is a double-edged sword: kids get social capital from being exposed to different ideas and cultivating interests, but it's also a difficult race to model yourself into some ideal.
Not Afraid To Be NiceGiphy
Students are not afraid to just be nice to each other. I teach elementary art and it is so nice when a kid who is pretty unskilled in art show another kid their work, and instead of getting laughed at (like when I was in school) kids are just so sweet and will say things like "Wow, I really love that!". I hear kids telling other kids "I think your work is beautiful" or "I really like your ideas!" and I just think of when I was in art kids made fun of my work. In general I really don't see kids being bullies as much as they were when I was a kid. I went to school in a really nice district too with few problems but I was bullied. Kids here have a MUCH worse home life than kids at my old school and while they could choose to take it out on others.. they don't. Kids help each other too. They know if a student is "special" and will try to help that student out. They'll offer to walk them to the bathroom, or help them with their drawing, or very politely tell them to be careful with things.