People always blame the younger generation for society’s problems. “Kids today” they say, shaking their heads. If we dig a little deeper, however, it becomes more and more obvious that most of these issues that are supposedly only problems for teens are prominent among adults as well.
The term “sexting” refers to the sending of a sexually suggestive message or picture through text messages, and it is usually thought of an activity on the rise among teenagers only. In 2008 survey by the National Campaign, 39% of teenagers admitted to sending or receiving some sort of sext. While this is a large portion of the teenage community, a USAToday survey revealed some shocking statistics about the older generations. 59% of people aged 20 to 26 revealed they sexted, along with 28% of parents.
While the biggest danger seems to lie in teens sharing pictures they’ve received with their classmates, there are still cases of adults sexting irresponsibly. Take New York Representative Anthony Weiner, for instance, whose secret penchant for online relationships with various women he’s met around the country began to surface in May, 2011, when he posted a picture of his crotch to Twitter, wearing only underwear. Even though he denied involvement in the incident, more pictures began to surface from multiple women, all claiming to have received pictures from Weiner as well as engaged in sexual conversations via text with him. On June 6th he finally admitted to sending the pictures as well as to having a series of inappropriate relationships with women he’d met online.
It would seem, then, that not only teenagers but adults as well could learn a thing or two from Anthony Weiner about the permanence of images sent over the Internet and the dangers of sexting.
Tragic alcohol-related accidents taking place on events such as prom or graduation tend to leave the impression that drunk-driving is only a mistake only teenagers make. While it certainly is a huge issue, eight teens are killed each day because of alcohol related accidents and 60% of all teenage deaths in car wrecks were caused by alcohol, adults are certainly not innocent of driving under the influence. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens are less likely to drive drunk than adults.
Celebrities from Khloe Kardashian to Mel Gibson have been caught driving under the influence, at the risk of themselves and those around them. A person is killed in an alcohol-related accident every 40 minutes; teens can’t shoulder all the blame for this unfortunate reality.
When we hear the word bullying, we often picture a kid in elementary school getting picked on or a high school student being pushed into a locker. Two out of three teens are verbally or physical harassed every year. Boys are more likely to engage in physical aggression while girls tend to bully emotionally or verbally. With the advent of the internet, incidents of cyber bullying have unfortunately increased rapidly in recent years; 42% of teens have been bullied online.
Still, while it seems that bullying is only a problem for young people, examples of adult bullying make it obvious that the problem does not simply disappear with age. In 2010, openly gay University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong was publicly bullied by Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell. Shirvell insulted Armstrong on his blog, going so far as to protest outside of Armstrong’s house.
Often, adult bullies were bullies or were bullied themselves when they were children, highlighting that bullying at any age is a serious issue.
Texting While Driving
It’s not hard to see why people stereotype teens as the only age group who text while they drive: an Allstate Foundation study found that almost 82% of teens admitted to cellphone use while driving and 49% confessed to texting while driving. As 20% of car accidents are attributed to distracted driving, and texting while driving increases the likelihood of an accident 23 times, this is an unnerving statistic .
Still, distracted driving is dangerous for all age groups, not just teenagers. In fact, in fatal accidents caused by distracted driving, cell phones were the culprit for 24% of cases for 30-39-year-old drivers, the highest proportion of all the age groups. In fact, Heidi Montag’s plastic surgeon Frank Ryan was killed in a car accident in August 2010. Allegedly, he was texting right before accidentally driving off a cliff.
The risks of distracted driving do not simply disappear at age 18.
While the media may romanticize teen pot smoking, the national average for pot use in the last month for ages 12-17 is 8%. However, for ages 18-25, that percentage jumps to 16%. Numbers of adult usage of pot begin to drop after age 25, but that does not mean all adults are saying no to the drug.
Grammy award-winning singer Amy Winehouse was arrested in 2007 for possession of marijuana and has been court-ordered to go to rehab multiple times. Actress Mischa Barton was pulled over while driving erratically that same year and was arrested for both a driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Being an adult does not exempt anyone from the legal consequences of smoking marijuana.
What Can You Do?