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Great article on why kids are filled with anxiety.


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I don't know.  When I was a kid, we felt a need to do well in school because many if not most of us would be physically punished, grounded, etc. if we didn't.  We also considered it a given that we needed to support ourselves by the time we finished high school.

I do think most of us didn't seriously start college / career planning much before 11th grade (other than the general expectation that we would or wouldn't attend college).  But we had other responsibilities that many of today's kids don't have.  Many of us were responsible for our younger siblings, cooking the family meal, and various other domestic responsibilities, in addition to managing our academic and social lives and often earning some spending money.  And we had anxious feelings, though it wasn't really discussed as a societal problem. 

Actually in polling some of my close friends as adults, most of us had so much stress that we considered suicide at different times.  I say this because I think it is a mistake to assume that anxiety is a thing of the present.  I think it's something rather natural for adolescents in all time periods.  Making life easier or less complicated on the outside doesn't prevent the hormone-charged mind from overreacting on the inside.  Actually it might be more helpful to make some things more challenging for younger kids so that they can experience their ability to overcome.  Like when I was an elementary-aged kid, I was given enough independence to get myself into some scrapes.  Having to find my way home after getting lost, escape bullies and bad guys, patch up my own injuries, and put out my own fires.  Or face the music when I couldn't fix things.  There is research suggesting that the removal of many of these experiences from young kids' lives is making them less able to deal with the stress that adolescence brings.  That said, I don't think the answer is less responsibility but probably more.

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I think the things mentioned in the article are stressful for some kids.

But they are not the things that are stressful for MY kids.

The article assumes that all kids are alike, but they are not.

The things that are mentioned are actually things that stress me out as a parent -- how to afford college, how to help my kids find a positive path for their lives, etc. It's stressful for ME to consider footing the huge bill for college when they don't know what they want to study. And it's important for my high school junior to be considering these things at her age. But I don't think they are on the radar at all for my middle school kids.

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Also, I ask my daughter sometimes if her friends are talking about colleges and what they want to study and whether they are stressed about the upcoming ACTs, and so on.

Nope, these things are not topics of discussion among her group of friends at all. It kind of surprises me, to tell you the truth. My high school friends back in the 80s were definitely talking about these things by junior year.

For my 17 year old, teen stresses have related to time management, due to being active in demanding extracurriculars; homework (she gets good grades but does not stress over her scores on every assignment, as suggested in the article); and some occasional social drama (minor in the grand scope of things).

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It’s similar to the millennial burnout article discussed on this thread https://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/682595-article-how-millennials-became-the-burnout-generation/

Nothing in the Vox article is new compared to us  (relatives, friends and me) born in the 70s and 80s. Before the internet age, we had teachers who called parents from the staff lounge phone about our “horrid” test scores to complain before we even know ours. We had test/exam scores of the entire class or cohort posted on the notice board so everyone could check their scores easily. I had suicidal classmates in elementary and middle school, depressed classmates in high school. I do think getting Ds and Fs in elementary school during my generation is less confusing than my oldest kid public school report card. He found the state standardized test score report from 2nd to 4th grade more informative than the school report card.

 

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When DD took psych in high school, she came home and asked me whether anxiety runs in our family or not.  She had it, big time, but I had never really wondered about this.  On reflection, I concluded that I have it and call it ‘sick dread’, my mom has it and calls it ‘stress’, my grandmother had it and was called a ‘worry wart’, and at one point my dad basically had a walking nervous breakdown—he kept working but that was it, and we all tiptoed around him and lowered our expectations to none for a while.

So that was interesting.  

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I think there was an essential optimism that characterized earlier ages that is lacking now.  When I was growing up, it was all about education and then getting a white collar job.  When DH was growing up, it was all about having a job or a trade.  When my parents were growing up, a college diploma was a ticket to ride.  For kids now, it’s more uncertain.  My dad worked for one company for 40 years.  My grandfather ditto.  My other grandfather had his own businesses, although he also struggled a lot during the Depression. Stable employment was more the norm/expectation.  So that took a big chunk of anxiety off the table that is sitting there staring at everyone now.  Having said that, DH’s dad was a factory worker, and he got laid off near the end of every year.  They never knew exactly when he would be called back, so Christmas was always a stressful time.  And DH is a total grinch because of it, I think.  I used to wonder why he always ruined my Christmases, and then finally realized that he associates it with stress, USDA surplus cheese, squirrel for dinner (because his dad could shoot them and the family would save on groceries), and fear.  

There were also shared values about what is and isn’t right.  That makes a difference in anxiety because you’re not always trying to figure out everything from scratch.  

Also, there were extended family and church connections, which were not perfect but were still helpful.  Fallback living situations were at least somewhat available.

Bottom line—people used to have a different sort of margin in their lives than they do now.  In some ways now is better, but it’s also less certain.  And our expectations are higher, and you fall off the economic tightrope faster and harder now.

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Well, I don't know.  I mean, sure, as far as it goes, these things are stressors. In some ways, they are very prominent ones now compared to some other times, even if it's not wholly unique.

But, it seems a bit narrow.  I mean, the bit about being emailed grades - that is not anywhere near universal.  No public schools I know of here email kids grades, or even assignments and such - kids can get them in hs, but it's a pull system. And yet the kids still have anxiety.  

There has been some reasonable research that does point to social media as a real stressor and cause of anxiety, so I just don't see any reason for this author to dismiss that - just because those kids didn't mention it isn't all that convincing to me.  Maybe those kids are unusual, have more strict parents which protects them.  Or maybe it stresses them but they don't realise it.  I also think the kid of stuff he describes wth the school - sure it's not social media, but it is related to me in the sense that it is this 24 connectivity which is seldom turned off - sometimes not even to sleep.

Then, I think there are probably other causes as well.

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As far as the online aspect of today’s high school experience a lot has changed in just a few years. Dd2 and dd4 had the same English teacher 6 years apart. When  dd2 took the class it was a lot of work but what as due when was pretty straight forward. Fast forward to last year same teacher same class but now the teacher extensively uses remind, google classroom, and PowerSchool. It was a nightmare an overwhelming amount of assigned work. Work assigned after 10pm due the next day in class. Grades not handed back to the student only posted in PowerSchool. If an assignment was lost or miss graded the student only knew when PowerSchool was updated. The google classroom page was a mess. It was next to impossible to find easily what was a required assignment vs what was extra credit etc. Students were expected to constantly be checking google classroom for new assignments. 

 It was a lot like working for an overbearing boss who lacked boundaries but we’re talking about 15 yo kids who have little recourse in the situation vs adults who can find a new job. 

The pressure to go to a top notch college is high as well. Back in the day when I was in high school the occasional b or c was ok. Now 1 c your gpa is tanked and your college choices are limited. 

Obviously none of this rises to the level of the Great Depression or Vietnam etc. but I think it is overwhelming for young teens. They lack the experience to put it in perspective. 

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1 hour ago, Carol in Cal. said:

I think there was an essential optimism that characterized earlier ages that is lacking now.  When I was growing up, it was all about education and then getting a white collar job.  When DH was growing up, it was all about having a job or a trade.  When my parents were growing up, a college diploma was a ticket to ride.  For kids now, it’s more uncertain.  My dad worked for one company for 40 years.  My grandfather ditto.  My other grandfather had his own businesses, although he also struggled a lot during the Depression. Stable employment was more the norm/expectation.  So that took a big chunk of anxiety off the table that is sitting there staring at everyone now.  Having said that, DH’s dad was a factory worker, and he got laid off near the end of every year.  They never knew exactly when he would be called back, so Christmas was always a stressful time.  And DH is a total grinch because of it, I think.  I used to wonder why he always ruined my Christmases, and then finally realized that he associates it with stress, USDA surplus cheese, squirrel for dinner (because his dad could shoot them and the family would save on groceries), and fear.  

There were also shared values about what is and isn’t right.  That makes a difference in anxiety because you’re not always trying to figure out everything from scratch.  

Also, there were extended family and church connections, which were not perfect but were still helpful.  Fallback living situations were at least somewhat available.

Bottom line—people used to have a different sort of margin in their lives than they do now.  In some ways now is better, but it’s also less certain.  And our expectations are higher, and you fall off the economic tightrope faster and harder now.

The reality you describe above was not true in general though.  For one thing, only a small fraction of teens had any realistic hope of attending college at all until recent generations.  A high % didn't even graduate high school.  My parents and grandparents did not have "stable, long term employment" - not one of the six.  Few people I know in their generation did, and the one I do know who did was working for his brother's business.

Add to that the fear of the draft that my parents felt when they were teens and young in their marriage.  Need I say more?

Learning disabilities were not addressed.  My dad's severe dyslexia caused him to lose at least one job and made it incredibly hard to get a trade certification or read the Bible (though he did eventually do both).  My folks had 4 kids close together and eventually a total of 6.  Half had fairly severe vision problems that needed long-term medical treatment.  Sometimes they had insurance, sometimes they didn't.

The crime level was also higher then.  My mom's best friend was raped and my mom fought off a rapist when she was 8.5mos pregnant.  My childhood home was busted into at least once that I remember.

As far as relief - back then you had to pay cash to buy food stamps.  The cost was based on what they said you could afford in your budget.  If you didn't budget well enough to buy those food stamps, your kids went hungry.  The safety net was not any better then than now.

I think humans have a tendency to forget the bad stuff and view the past through rose-colored glasses, generation after generation.  When in reality, things are so much easier today that they are really almost too easy.

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5 minutes ago, SKL said:

The reality you describe above was not true in general though.  For one thing, only a small fraction of teens had any realistic hope of attending college at all until recent generations.  A high % didn't even graduate high school.  My parents and grandparents did not have "stable, long term employment" - not one of the six.  Few people I know in their generation did, and the one I do know who did was working for his brother's business.

Add to that the fear of the draft that my parents felt when they were teens and young in their marriage.  Need I say more?

Learning disabilities were not addressed.  My dad's severe dyslexia caused him to lose at least one job and made it incredibly hard to get a trade certification or read the Bible (though he did eventually do both).  My folks had 4 kids close together and eventually a total of 6.  Half had fairly severe vision problems that needed long-term medical treatment.  Sometimes they had insurance, sometimes they didn't.

The crime level was also higher then.  My mom's best friend was raped and my mom fought off a rapist when she was 8.5mos pregnant.  My childhood home was busted into at least once that I remember.

As far as relief - back then you had to pay cash to buy food stamps.  The cost was based on what they said you could afford in your budget.  If you didn't budget well enough to buy those food stamps, your kids went hungry.  The safety net was not any better then than now.

I think humans have a tendency to forget the bad stuff and view the past through rose-colored glasses, generation after generation.  When in reality, things are so much easier today that they are really almost too easy.

The point is, there was a path that was fairly certain; even though certainly not everyone was on it.  Now there is nothing that really feels certain.

Also, there is more formalized relief now, certainly, but there is also less of a fallback network.

I don’t rosify the past, but although there have undeniably been lots of improvements, particularly in medicine, there also is an increase in individualism and personal pressure that can contribute a lot toward anxiety.

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17 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

The point is, there was a path that was fairly certain; even though certainly not everyone was on it.  Now there is nothing that really feels certain.

Also, there is more formalized relief now, certainly, but there is also less of a fallback network.

I don’t rosify the past, but although there have undeniably been lots of improvements, particularly in medicine, there also is an increase in individualism and personal pressure that can contribute a lot toward anxiety.

I continue to disagree.  My grandfather who was born over 120 years ago in a rich family did not have stable employment.  My grandma had to leave her little babies and go to work in order to feed the family.

The media tells us this story about stable employment, which was supposedly the reality (for a fraction of people for a very short period of time).  Keep in mind that it isn't really that long since there were no labor laws to speak of, no 8-hour work day, no worker's comp; work-related health insurance is even more recent.  Social security hasn't been around forever either.

Fallback network also depends very much on who you are lucky enough to be related to.

Mostly men and women just worked multiple jobs and got their kids working as soon as possible (hence few people graduating high school).  People made their own stuff and passed it down until it couldn't be mended any more.  Teens shot squirrels and rabbits and birds and fish to supplement the family diet.

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Another thing - I disagree that there is now no sense of confidence that things will be OK if we work hard.  That is another thing the media tells us which I consider baseless and harmful.  Obviously in life there will always be ups and downs, but most people are going to be OK most of the time if they don't make big mistakes such as getting hooked on drugs or committing felonies.  Even those with bad mistakes in their past are generally doing OK if they have put it behind them.  Of course maybe it depends on what you consider "OK."  Mansion with a swimming pool and early retirement, probably not.  Food and a roof over your head, probably.

The message from the media that hard work won't make a difference if one little thing goes wrong is a damaging lie that probably does fuel anxiety.

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Some good points here.

I am thinking one of the important things to teach these days is how to use tech as a tool and not to let it overtake your life. I am also seeing increased anxiety and while I don't blame it always on technology, it certainly plays a role - especially with teens.

Creating space where a person can just think and not have to check social media, email, apps, etc. is almost non-existent now. I think this is a significant loss as some down time where we can gather out thoughts, dream and just be is vital to mental health.

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The constant pressure to optimize their futures

I think this line here really hits at least one of the nails square on the head.  I think much like many other societal issues, there's more than one thing at play.  But I think this "pressure to optimize the future" is a very real thing.   I think schools are pushing it hard, and it starts young.   We now have a PSAT test for middle schoolers, complete with the test prep courses (thank you College Board 🙄 )And schools push these tests and stress proper prep work etc.  And then you have academics being pushed down and down in the schools, such that my DD10 went to Kindy full day because half day wasn't even an option in that district.  And they had actual grades, in Kindy.  And freaking spelling tests!  And that doesn't even get into the state required testing that teachers jobs depend on.  So in 8th grade, you might have a kid who is dealing with a state required test that all the teachers are stressing and teaching to the test because the teachers are well aware that if the kids don't score well, they could lose their jobs.  And then, a few months later, the kid is going through PSAT prep course and then taking the middle school PSAT.  And then the next year, there is a state required GQE for math and english that the student has to pass in order to graduate, and on and on one.

 

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16 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I think this line here really hits at least one of the nails square on the head.  I think much like many other societal issues, there's more than one thing at play.  But I think this "pressure to optimize the future" is a very real thing.   I think schools are pushing it hard, and it starts young.   We now have a PSAT test for middle schoolers, complete with the test prep courses (thank you College Board 🙄 )And schools push these tests and stress proper prep work etc.  And then you have academics being pushed down and down in the schools, such that my DD10 went to Kindy full day because half day wasn't even an option in that district.  And they had actual grades, in Kindy.  And freaking spelling tests!  And that doesn't even get into the state required testing that teachers jobs depend on.  So in 8th grade, you might have a kid who is dealing with a state required test that all the teachers are stressing and teaching to the test because the teachers are well aware that if the kids don't score well, they could lose their jobs.  And then, a few months later, the kid is going through PSAT prep course and then taking the middle school PSAT.  And then the next year, there is a state required GQE for math and english that the student has to pass in order to graduate, and on and on one.

 

 

This is spot on. My kindergartener has weekly spelling tests as well. If you can’t read 80% of the required core words (about 50 words) by the end of kindergarten you repeat the year. 

I went to a course selection meeting with my freshman at her high school 2 years ago.  The guidance counselor was explaining how if your child had not completed AP BC calc by the end of sophomore year they were too far behind to go into a math intense field such as engineering or physics. It was nuts. 

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16 minutes ago, hshibley said:

This is spot on. My kindergartener has weekly spelling tests as well. If you can’t read 80% of the required core words (about 50 words) by the end of kindergarten you repeat the year. 

I went to a course selection meeting with my freshman at her high school 2 years ago.  The guidance counselor was explaining how if your child had not completed AP BC calc by the end of sophomore year they were too far behind to go into a math intense field such as engineering or physics. It was nuts. 

Any my second grader has no HW at all.

i don’t think we can generalize about “kids these days” as there are very different local realities at play. I have family that live approx 2 hours away and their elementary school experience is vastly different from ours.  I personally think my own area could do with a bit more targeted anxiety, but alas. 

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15 minutes ago, hshibley said:

This is spot on. My kindergartener has weekly spelling tests as well. If you can’t read 80% of the required core words (about 50 words) by the end of kindergarten you repeat the year. 

I went to a course selection meeting with my freshman at her high school 2 years ago.  The guidance counselor was explaining how if your child had not completed AP BC calc by the end of sophomore year they were too far behind to go into a math intense field such as engineering or physics. It was nuts. 

 

That is insane.  What state are you in?

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1 hour ago, SKL said:

I continue to disagree.  My grandfather who was born over 120 years ago in a rich family did not have stable employment.  My grandma had to leave her little babies and go to work in order to feed the family.

The media tells us this story about stable employment, which was supposedly the reality (for a fraction of people for a very short period of time).  Keep in mind that it isn't really that long since there were no labor laws to speak of, no 8-hour work day, no worker's comp; work-related health insurance is even more recent.  Social security hasn't been around forever either.

Fallback network also depends very much on who you are lucky enough to be related to.

Mostly men and women just worked multiple jobs and got their kids working as soon as possible (hence few people graduating high school).  People made their own stuff and passed it down until it couldn't be mended any more.  Teens shot squirrels and rabbits and birds and fish to supplement the family diet.

This is really a straw man, and I don’t want to belabor this, but I’m not saying that these perceptions were right but rather that they were more common than now.  For good or bad, that is observably different, and the difference produces anxiety even when it shouldn’t.

I’m not averse to your points, but they don’t really address mine exactly.  

I’m trying to remember when this was, but sometime last year Time magazine had a special issue themed with the idea that Things Aren’t Really That Bad, Actually They Are Getting A Lot Better.  Something like that is really needed now.

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5 hours ago, SKL said:

I don't know.  When I was a kid, we felt a need to do well in school because many if not most of us would be physically punished, grounded, etc. if we didn't.  We also considered it a given that we needed to support ourselves by the time we finished high school.

I do think most of us didn't seriously start college / career planning much before 11th grade (other than the general expectation that we would or wouldn't attend college).  But we had other responsibilities that many of today's kids don't have.  Many of us were responsible for our younger siblings, cooking the family meal, and various other domestic responsibilities, in addition to managing our academic and social lives and often earning some spending money.  And we had anxious feelings, though it wasn't really discussed as a societal problem. 

Actually in polling some of my close friends as adults, most of us had so much stress that we considered suicide at different times.  I say this because I think it is a mistake to assume that anxiety is a thing of the present.  I think it's something rather natural for adolescents in all time periods.  Making life easier or less complicated on the outside doesn't prevent the hormone-charged mind from overreacting on the inside.  Actually it might be more helpful to make some things more challenging for younger kids so that they can experience their ability to overcome.  Like when I was an elementary-aged kid, I was given enough independence to get myself into some scrapes.  Having to find my way home after getting lost, escape bullies and bad guys, patch up my own injuries, and put out my own fires.  Or face the music when I couldn't fix things.  There is research suggesting that the removal of many of these experiences from young kids' lives is making them less able to deal with the stress that adolescence brings.  That said, I don't think the answer is less responsibility but probably more.

 

truth

i wholeheartedly agree

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16 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

Any my second grader has no HW at all.

i don’t think we can generalize about “kids these days” as there are very different local realities at play. I have family that live approx 2 hours away and their elementary school experience is vastly different from ours.  I personally think my own area could do with a bit more targeted anxiety, but alas. 

While I think there are certainly "different local realities" I think the pushing downward of the academics and such is a very real trend happening in large parts of the US, and I think it's having a very real effect on a large part of the children of the US.  

 

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To elaborate on my "spelling tests in Kindy" comment....

 

I went to pick DD10 up from Kindy one day.  She was BAWLING.  The aid is trying to comfort her, but DD is not having it, she can't even explain what is wrong.

So the Kindy teacher comes out and explains that she had caught DD "cheating" on her spelling test.  She was looking at another kid's paper for the answer.  The teacher warned her, twice even, but DD kept doing it so the teacher took her paper.  DD basically lost it.  Completely inconsolable the rest of the afternoon (which thankfully wasn't long.)  While it's certainly truth that "cheating" is wrong, we are talking about Kindergarten here. 

I think when schools and teachers are doing these things, they have their hearts in the right place, but they are forgetting that kids that young are very black and white.  And the thing the kids pick up the most is that if they make the mistake, they lose their chance to fix it.  

 

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11 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

While I think there are certainly "different local realities" I think the pushing downward of the academics and such is a very real trend happening in large parts of the US, and I think it's having a very real effect on a large part of the children of the US.  

 

I don’t know what we are talking about when we talk about “children of the US”, or for that matter “high stakes testing” etc. I only know what I see in my area, and I can assure you no one is losing any sleep over academics. 

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38 minutes ago, Katy said:

 

That is insane.  What state are you in?

NC which is what made the calc comment even crazier. As I told my daughter I took ab calc as a senior and went to a high ranking engineering school. My oldest is a math/comp sci grad from our flagship university and she took bc calc as a senior. The guidance counselor was nuts. But if a student or parent has no outside knowledge of the field they are going to listen to the guidance counselor. 

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5 hours ago, SKL said:

 

I do think most of us didn't seriously start college / career planning much before 11th grade (other than the general expectation that we would or wouldn't attend college).  But we had other responsibilities that many of today's kids don't have.  Many of us were responsible for our younger siblings, cooking the family meal, and various other domestic responsibilities, in addition to managing our academic and social lives and often earning some spending money.  And we had anxious feelings, though it wasn't really discussed as a societal problem. 

 

 

These tasks were associated with a real purpose. Sure, someone may have been anxious if they were getting a decent meal on the table as an inexperienced cook or make mistakes out in the field (drive the tractor into the ditch, etc). I do recall those types of anxieties as well growing up but we were not under the constant cloud of public exposure or the pressure to keep up with the latest tech AND the time that is spent doing those things today takes away time to reflect, to just think.

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1 minute ago, Liz CA said:

 

These tasks were associated with a real purpose. Sure, someone may have been anxious if they were getting a decent meal on the table as an inexperienced cook or make mistakes out in the field (drive the tractor into the ditch, etc). I do recall those types of anxieties as well growing up but we were not under the constant cloud of public exposure or the pressure to keep up with the latest tech AND the time that is spent doing those things today takes away time to reflect, to just think.

But we can manage the tech thing by putting the devices away for part of every day.

My youngest just turned 12 and got an iphone for her birthday.  (My elder kid, 12y3mo, also got one for her 12th birthday and does not have big issues with it.)  Youngest is having some issues and needs some better management.  To me, this is a good time to deal with this stuff - before it is a big problem.  At 12yo / 7th grade, the stakes are not super high as long as they don't wander into fake chat rooms / human trafficking danger etc.  I can take away the phone and she has no right and no need to demand it back.

My eldest forgot to bring her phone with her on our 2-week vacation.  The first day, she thought she was gonna die, but pretty soon she was OK and probably learned something valuable about the "need" for electronics.

Adolescence is a minefield - always has been, always will be.  I remember things written on the bathroom walls that caused more drama than anything I've seen on our devices.  Bottom line, people are still people.  Kindness is still kindness.  Discretion is still discretion.  Quietness of soul is still within reach too.

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2 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

I don’t know what we are talking about when we talk about “children of the US”, or for that matter “high stakes testing” etc. I only know what I see in my area, and I can assure you no one is losing any sleep over academics. 

As I said, of course there are "different local realities."  

My experience has been with multiple school districts in different areas, and now, different states, and over the course of 20 years, in different capacities.  I have watched the trend happen in a very general sense, through those different experiences.  I was in Kindy 35 years ago.  I went half days, and we did letter people, one per week (I can still see the 12X12 cards lined up across the top of the chalkboard lol)  My DD10 was in Kindy 3 yrs ago, and she went full day, and was taking spelling tests and memorizing sight words and more.  

It's very true that different districts have very different struggles.  In the types of schools that I have the MOST experience with...suburban, middle class, etc....the push on the academic side of things is really big.  My oldest took 2 AP classes and although that was completely fine (Which she is only just now, as a college graduate realizing) back when she was applying to schools and taking all those tests, she was absolutely given the impression that that was not good enough, especially since she didn't pass the AP Japanese test.  More than once she said to me some variation of 'If I don't Ace this test, I'm screwed.'  Kids are coming away with the impression that every little mistake could ruin their entire lives and careers.  And seeing what my DD10 went through in Kindy and first, I can see where they are getting these ideas from.  

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4 minutes ago, Liz CA said:

I do recall those types of anxieties as well growing up but we were not under the constant cloud of public exposure or the pressure to keep up with the latest tech AND the time that is spent doing those things today takes away time to reflect, to just think.

 

The author did not mentioned that teens were born after camera phones became available. Facebook and smartphones came into existence during their childhood. When I was their age, the worse was a few embarrassing printed Kodak photos and VHS tape videos. Now a teen does something silly and it might be all over the Internet because a stranger took a photo or video and post it on social media. 

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For the record, education has been "all across the board" forever.

My KG class, though half-day, learned to read and write.  The one boy who didn't learn enough reading had to repeat.  That was in 1971.  (We had kids repeat almost every grade the whole time I was in school.)  My grandma's KG class had to read/write, and they had to repeat if they didn't read well enough.  (My grandma repeated a semester because she was also an immigrant and English was not her first language.) 

Since I was a teenager, I have been observing the differences between districts, and even in the same county, one KG class was reading while another was studying one letter a week.  I do think it is more common now for kids to learn reading in KG, but it is also way less common for kids to be held back over reading level.

I do see a mix of academics being "pushed down" and also "dumbed down" nowadays.  For example, my kids' 7th grade science books are covering stuff we didn't cover until 10th grade biology, but they are only touching on most topics rather than going in depth.  I don't like it for the most part, but I don't think it is inherently more stressful than my 7th grade science (where we did a lot of experiments that didn't work and it was hard to maintain a C).  Especially when you add in the fact that my 7th grade teacher could and did beat kids with a paddle if he didn't like their attitudes, work speeds, fashion choices ....  And if you got beat at school, you could count on being beat some more at home.

I dislike the fact that our kids are often one big educational experiment as they keep trying different curriculum changes to see what sticks.  But that really isn't anything new.  I remember my mom telling me that when she and my dad were little, her school did phonics instruction while my dad's school (same city) was trying out the new sight word approach (which probably wasn't new, but whatever).  The results were interesting, controversial, potentially useful, but ultimately did not change much as we still see the same methods being used alternatively in schools today.

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21 minutes ago, SKL said:

But we can manage the tech thing by putting the devices away for part of every day.

My youngest just turned 12 and got an iphone for her birthday.  (My elder kid, 12y3mo, also got one for her 12th birthday and does not have big issues with it.)  Youngest is having some issues and needs some better management.  To me, this is a good time to deal with this stuff - before it is a big problem.  At 12yo / 7th grade, the stakes are not super high as long as they don't wander into fake chat rooms / human trafficking danger etc.  I can take away the phone and she has no right and no need to demand it back.

My eldest forgot to bring her phone with her on our 2-week vacation.  The first day, she thought she was gonna die, but pretty soon she was OK and probably learned something valuable about the "need" for electronics.

Adolescence is a minefield - always has been, always will be.  I remember things written on the bathroom walls that caused more drama than anything I've seen on our devices.  Bottom line, people are still people.  Kindness is still kindness.  Discretion is still discretion.  Quietness of soul is still within reach too.

 

I like that expression. I think we have to work harder today to achieve it though because of the bombardment with info and more info which is not all that informative or vital sometimes.

Certainly, tech is here to stay and there will be more and more. Teaching how to moderate its use and view it as a tool seems very important to me. The example of your dd who forgot her phone and realized she can live without it is very representative of where we are today. If somehow satellites were disabled for a week or so, we would all find out that we can live without it. This experience may have caused her to evaluate how far that phone ranks on the priority list. 

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