Challenges Facing the Twenty-First Century Teen

modern life, stress, economy, recession,Emily is a 13-year-old from Eastvale, CA. She loves to write, cook, and volunteer at her local animal shelter.


Most of the times when teens complain to their parents saying “You just don’t get it!” parents think they are being dramatic. Truth is a lot of the time we are right because the world today is entirely different from when they were growing up. Yeah, the essentials have not changed, peer pressure, and bullying but they have been taken to a whole new level. It seems like every time you turn on the news another controversy has arisen that has the potential to affect our lives, especially regarding the economy.

According to the U.S. department of Labor 48 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed, which is absolutely frightening. This hurdle however, is the least acknowledged by teens because until we start looking for a job ourselves it does not affect us, which has both positive and negative consequences. On the bright side ignorance really is bliss – until reality catches up, with a bombshell or two. This is something parents need to be prepared to handle.

While most teens are busy ignoring the economy we are consumed with our social lives because thanks to cyber-bullying it takes a lot of time to prevent ugly rumors from spreading. People are more courageous when they do not have to directly face a person and words hurt whether they are spoken aloud or written out. The best way for parents to help deal with the stress of bullying is to simply listen. Don’t automatically reach for the phone to contact the school or other ways to resolve the situation because that completely disregards their opinion.  Sometimes all teens want is to rant for a while and by not overeating it shows you can be trusted.

As you already know, teenage years are a journey of life in which you discover yourself. Today, it is harder to do than ever because there are so many opinions all claiming to be the truth. Media influences what we wear, listen to, and should look like. Peer pressure challenges anyone who comes out and decides to be different, calling them wrong for expressing themselves. Parents are responsible for combating this by encouraging their kids to be original and to accepting “unusual” behavior as long as it is not harmful. For example, weird hair is not going to hurt anyone and it can always be changed; make up can be removed, and writing creepy poetry doesn’t mean they are depressed.

The best thing parents can do for their teens is to be there. Let them rant away and only offer advice when asked. Society has changed so much and so I hate to say it but parental advice is not always valid since parents may do not always what their kids are going through.  Twenty-first challenges are like no other and this generation is the first that has to enter adulthood sentenced to these struggles. Many teens will be the first in their families to fight these battles and so they need the support now more the than ever.

Photo: flikr image from laughlin




Cheap and Easy in this Economy

 Dana is a 15 year old from Hi-nella, NJ. She loves to write and enjoys reading, singing, and shopping. Her goal is to help others through her writing, and bring attention to important topics.

As we go on with our lives and daily hectic schedules, it can feel like finding healthy affordable food for your family seems further out of reach than pigs flying. Because in reality, it sometimes is. Due to the economy these days everybody is taking a pay cut, getting less hours, some even losing there income completely due to lay offs. Everywhere we go the beneficial new craze is eating healthy and going green. We see it everywhere. On TV commercials, radio, even magazines, billboards, etc. While eating healthy and going green improves our waistlines and the planet, it can also be challenging for families who cannot quite afford anything other than cheap pasta and a jar of 99 cent sauce. As for cleaning products, the Eco friendly bottles aren’t exactly a bargain.  

Its not that I’m complaining, because while shelling out a little extra cash to help our health and planet is a great investment, this may present challenges for families who cant exactly afford to be luxurious. Now to everyone out there, if you are a parent or child living in a home where your budget cant quite meet the expenses of whole grain gourmet meals, don’t feel like you are “poor”. Because it is not just the people who are labeled with low incomes, all though it affects them more, its everyone. Today $100 dollars simply doesn’t go as far as it used to. Even if you can afford to buy healthy food and products that are good for the environment, buying lower cost items that aren’t great for your health gets you much more for your buck. But that’s the problem, it may get you more for your buck, but the same rule applies for your jean size. It doesn’t stop there though, filling out a little more than you’d like is just the beginning. The long term affects are much worse. A lifetime of living in the moment and shoveling what might as well be poison down your throat, can lead to clogged arteries, an unhealthy colon, etc. You can even develop an unpleasant odor which comes from putting unhealthy toxins into your body. 

Sadly though, many kids don’t have a choice. They are too young to get a job and don’t know any better. They look to their parents to make healthy choices for them, and parents simply cant do that when eating healthy is a trade off for paying the electric bill. Most children develop their eating habits at a young age, so it is momentous to eat right as a young child. Me and my family have been blessed with an income that allows us to eat healthy and live a comfortable lifestyle. But I will admit there are times when fruit for $5 a pound, and going to movies will just have to wait until the next paycheck. So do not beat yourself up because you are a parent or teen who frets at looking at price tags. Because in this day and age, in this economy, everyone does.  
Now lets be realistic for a moment, say your fridge isn’t even stocked with the basic essentials and you have $20 dollars to make it all work. Are you going to reach for one of the $4 bag of baked vegetable chips with less calories and trans fat, or two bags of the $1 fried potato chips loaded with grease and everything else you can imagine. Say what you want, but if you are on that tight a budget, you will reach for the low cost snack foods that aren’t really healthy at all, but they’ll at least keep your cabinet full, and your electricity on. Try to understand that for a parent on a budget, it feels like the right decision at the time, sometimes its not even a choice. So I really don’t appreciate all the talk from public figures saying it is parents fault that the obesity rate in kids has doubled, when they cant control the economy. I’m also not exactly a fan of when people tell children to put down the video games and shed the pounds, because it is rarely the child’s fault. They shouldn’t be left alone to control it either, or to take the blame for that matter. I know most will read this article and think she’s just a teenager, what does she know? Well, I am not a kid playing loud music and sleeping late as most people stereotype us teens. I am a young woman who knows just as much about this economy and who’s to blame than average people. I’m not dumb, I watch the news and political debates over such topics just like everybody else. So I hope no one uses my age to dismiss the truth behind what I am saying. 
Now I want to tell you about some tricks my family and I use to save money, and have fun doing it. Now I know that sounds a bit corny and impossible, but don’t knock the idea down until you’ve tried it! Okay so a year ago it was just me and my mother on a Tuesday night. We just bought a pricey dog and cash was a little tight, and didn’t really feel like messing up the kitchen to make a big meal for just us. So we came up with an ingenious idea, instead of going to the grocery store and buying pricey deli meat for school lunches, and something for dinner, we ordered a large cheese pizza from around the corner. We ate 2 slices each for diner, and wrapped the other pieces up so I could take a piece for lunch for the rest of the week. I had an awesome dinner, and killer lunch for all that week. Now I don’t know about you, but I commend myself for that thrifty idea. See, you sort of feel proud of yourself, like it becomes a game that you never stop playing. Trust me, that game has its benefits. Also, if we are going somewhere in the summer and were taking the whole family and dog with us, turn off the AC until you get back, or at least put it on low. Same in the winter time for the heater. The amount you save on your electric can buy you waist friendly food, and Eco friendly products! It’s like a mouse in a maze trying to find the cheese. There is a way to buy healthy affordable food, you just have to find it.

Ask-A-Teen Column: Winter Fashion on a Budget

This article is by Renae and Sofia, the writers of the Ask A Teen Column where readers can write in to ask our teens for advice, email for your question.

“What to wear for winter 2009 teenagers? Are there a couple of cool winter staples my family and I can get now while sales are on in a bad economy?

Skinny Denim
For Winter 2009, Gap releases the 1969 Premium Jeans Collection. It revolved around an American classic and the brand’s most iconic product. Guy’s and girl’s fits were reworked at every level and transformed into a series of amazingly fitting premium jeans that are popular with the jeans that are popular with the teens. Best of all, they’re all under $70. Quality jeans that last without having an outrageous receipt.

Let’s take a look at what Old Navy has! They’ve got what they call “Weekend Jeans” that are versatile with the changing seasons. They go good with summer tank tops and go even better with winter coats. $34.50

Military Jacket…Like this! This Women’s Double-Breasted Military Blazer is a very comfortable fit and the colors make it easy to mix and match with different types of jeans and accessories. $39.50

Cable Knit Zip

Cuuuuuuute!! I personally love stripes and this Cable-Knit Zip Hoodie screams soft and warm! Only $20.00!

Faux Suede Tall Boots

Women’s Fauxe Suede Tall Boots are durable and only $34.50

~ Renae is a 16-year-old from Lowell, MI. She is a creative individual who spends a lot of her time reading and learning Japanese because she would like to become a Journalist in Japan.

In today’s economic state, high-priced brand names are not on everyone’s mind for the latest fashions.  Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive places that sell adorable clothing and when mixed and matched together, can create an outfit envied by all.

Since Ugg boots are a little too pricey, try Emu’s or Bear Paw boots, which are at least 100 dollars cheaper.  These boots are available in tan and black which can go with virtually any outfit.  They work great with skinny jeans and even sweatpants.  Sweatpants, a white t-shirt, and the boots create a cute, yet comfortable outfit. 

Fruit of the Loom and Hanes are great brands for white t-shirts and v-necks and they are also extremely low-priced.  Not only are these fluffy boots fashionable, but they also keep your feet nice and warm.

Another growing winter fashion, is the knitted cardigans and sweaters.  They work by keeping you warm when you need it but they also breathe.  They work best with leggings and a small white tanktop underneath. 

Cardigans fit loosely and are comfortable and easy to move around in. They are easy to find; places that keep knitted sweaters and cardigans can be found at Target, K-mart, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister (an inexpensive version of Abercrombie), and JC Penny in the teens section.

Leggings are also a new fashion that can be paired with any t-shirt, dress, or can even be worn under jeans for an extra attempt to keep warm.  Leggings can be found at Forever 21 for only four dollars.

Also, sweatshirts never go out of style, a plain, old sweatshirt is comfortable and the benefit of wearing anything underneath always helps out if you get too hot and need to take it off.   Sweatshirts look great with jeans or sweatpants and paired with boots, it works great.

Even wearing heavy dresses, such as crocheted or knitted dresses with tights and boots without the heel looks great but also keeps you warm.  Black and brown tights work great with light colored dresses and just plain black and white tights work wonders with darker colored dresses.

The knitted or crocheted loose, beanie type hats are absolutely adorable and they are fairly priced.  They keep your head warm but they leave room for air as well. They are often worn with dresses or even a plain t-shirt and skinny jeans.  Shoes that go well with these hats are flats and boots.  Try to stay away from the Ugg style boots; they usually do not pair as well with these.

~ Sofia is a 16-year-old from Los Angeles, CA.  She loves the beach, shopping, and enjoys studying psychology because she would like to become a psychologist when she is older.

How the Recession is Affecting Teens [Teen Article]

Aimee is from West Chester, PA, and she is 14 years old. She has a passion for figure skating, ballet and playing the piano. She loves challenges and aspires to be a lawyer when she is older. how the recession is affecting teens

Working adults everywhere are being affected by the current recession. Some people have lost their jobs; others have taken a drop in pay, while others have not been able to find new jobs to replace the ones they’ve lost. The recession is defiantly hitting some people hard. But, what about teens: how is the recession affecting us?

The recession is affecting the lives of so many teens.  A large number of teens are finding themselves in situations where their parents are unemployed due to the recession. In order to help their families financially, teens are having to stop playing sports, participating in activities such as playing the piano, and buying new clothes for school. Some teens are moving to new towns or states or even countries where their parents can get new jobs.  Loads of teens have parents that have lost their jobs due to the recession, and their lives are being greatly affected by it.

With so many parents being unemployed, there are loads of teens who are trying to find ways to earn some extra spending money. This means that an increasing number of teens are looking for jobs and trying to find creative ways to make money. Finding jobs is pretty hard for teens, because companies are hiring less people in order to save money. Now, there are a huge percentage of teens who say that they are unemployed, meaning they are looking for jobs and not finding any.

The recession is also affecting how teens spend money. Teens are starting to shop smarter and think about how to stretch the dollar. Instead of shopping at stores where a shirt could cost $40, teens are going to shops where they can get 4 shirts for the same price. Because of the recession, teens are becoming more conscious of how they are spending their money, and that is something that people never thought they would see.

The recession is affecting many teens in different ways. Some teen’s parents have lost their jobs due to the recession. In the current economic climate, more teens have jobs or say that they are unemployed. And, teens are also starting to shop smart and become more conscious about how they are spending their money.

What Teens Are Doing This Summer [Teen Article]

Stephanie is a sophomore in high school residing in suburban New Jersey. She loves free-writing and dreams of traveling the world.

What Teens Are Doing This SummerWe’re well into the Summer of 2009:

The days are hot,
The nights are long,
And the ocean waves are cool and strong.
(Sorry. I was never good at poetry. But that’s besides the point.)

The point is, with a great year like this, teenagers are not about to let an economic recession ruin their summer fun.

Ever since the recession, families have had to cut down on spending, especially when it came down to vacations or planning summer getaways. Driving becomes a pain when gas prices are sky-high, so road trips have become tough to finance, too.  Many friends and family members of mine have decided to skip the fancy vacations and instead keep their summer plans local and affordable. How is this possible, you ask?

Go to the beach with a group of friends. Check out your neighborhood pool (or relax in your own if you’re lucky enough to own one!).  Visit an amusement or water park for a day. Invite some kids over to have dessert at the local diner, then crash at your place. Want to get a little adventurous? You can always go on a hike, or plan to go parasailing with a buddy. Throw a few well-planned house parties if your parents allow it. It’s so easy to find things to do with friends without going over your budget.

Still finding yourself short of extra cash? No worries. Nothing’s better than saving up with money earned from a summer job. Plenty of my friends have found daytime jobs at restaurants, farms, bakeries, supermarkets, clothing stores, and offices. I know of teens that have even taken to starting their own businesses! Some find it exciting to shadow their own parents at work and gain insight into the business world as well as work experience. Volunteering is also an option that teens are considering as a summer activity. I myself have gotten involved with my town’s local animal shelter, spending time with abandoned animals and helping to raise money for needed supplies. One of my close friends is currently volunteering at a soup kitchen – she absolutely loves it! Volunteering is that special kind of work that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as peace of mind knowing that through hard effort you’ve managed to better your community. Not to mention, it looks great on your resume! (Plus, come September you’ll have something to brag about to your new teacher. Cough cough.)

Plenty of teenagers are willing to work and stay close to home during their summer break, but others are still itching to hop on a plane or drive down somewhere exotic for the vacation of their lives. I’ve noticed that teenagers are now more frequently going on vacations together and splitting the costs. Renting vacation homes and booking cruises are popular, especially since you can find some cheap deals with both options.  Even though you only have to pay half the price, you’re learning to spend your money wisely which is totally boosting your financial responsibility. Isn’t it more exciting to learn about managing your finances during vacation-time rather than in a boring accounting class at school, anyway?

Before I wrap up, I think it’s important to mention how much of a role technology is playing this summer, too. The internet is HUGE this year. So many websites became popular with teenagers – obviously the more widely-known social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter – but some surprising winners were found in websites like and I can assure you that if teens aren’t hanging out with friends or lying out under some umbrella on the beach, you can bet they’re typing away to their friends on AIM or updating their MySpace status. Looks like being tech-savvy can come in hand!
Okay, so Summer 2009 has been influenced by our nation’s economic state – but not completely revolutionized. Teens are still into having a good time and aren’t about to give that desire up just because money may be a little tight. To all my fellow peers who are looking to make the best of what’s left of our break: enjoy the heat, stay smart with your cash and take the opportunity of making this your best summer yet. Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen.

The New Version of the ‘Good ‘Ole Days’ [Teen Article]

Emily is a 15-year-old from Miami, Fl. She enjoys the beach, Disney World, baking cupcakes, and hanging with friends.

the new version of the good ol days
Three months ago my parents gathered the family around the table and told us that my dad’s salary was getting cut 40% because of the economic downturn. I didn’t know what to think. It was too much for my naive 15 year-old-brain to process. I saw the days of movie outings with friends, impromptu shopping sprees, and decadent restaurant nights out diminishing before my eyes. The lifestyle that I so looked forward to, in my teen years seemed to turn to dust. My parents pressed the fast forward button before I had the chance to speak, and now I was being immersed in “adult situations.” Dinner conversations became consumed with rising insurance rates, ways to cut our phone bills, coupon cutting, and switching to basic cable instead of having 500 channels. Not that I have ever personally been spoiled, but I’ve constantly been surrounded by people who are. Living in Miami, most teens here have a certain lifestyle. Most of my friend’s parents are doctors, lawyers, or other high paying professionals. When I go to the mall with them, their parents will give them $400 to spend, while I’ll bring the $30 I got from babysitting on Saturday. My circle of friends goes on European cruises for spring break, while I consider myself lucky if my family manages to scrape some money together to go to Disney World.

The recession has strained my family in ways that bring my mom to tears sometimes. When you’re a parent, all you want to do for your kids is give them the best of everything, but when you can’t do that without risking going bankrupt, you feel like a failure. Throughout my life, I’ve gotten used to hearing “NO” for things, like asking to go to sleep away camps, invites on vacations with friends, and overly priced jeans. But recently, the “No’s” have become more constant for even the most trivial of items. Last week I told my mom to pick up some shampoo at the grocery store for me because I was out, but she told me that she couldn’t because there was $2.97 at the moment and she couldn’t risk bouncing a check. That day, I thought about getting a part-time job for the first time in my life. And not the typical babysitting job where you go across the street to take care of little Johnny for an hour, but one that I’d clock in and out of. I’ve never hesitated at the thought of getting a job, it always seemed like a sort of rite of passage, but I always assumed it would be when I was 17, to buy my first car or score some front row seats. I never would have imagined getting a job to help out with my parents.

Shortly after, I logged onto  and . I must have sent out over 20 applications. I only got one reply, though, but once they found out my young age, it was as if I could literally see their eyes roll over the phone. But, apparently I’m not along in the teen job hunt. According to statistics discovered by series “CBS Reports: Children of the Recession,” employment for teens age 16-19 has dropped from 45% in 2000 to just 30% as of 2009. Chris Wragge, co-anchor of Early Show Saturday Edition, points out that “many teens need the jobs to help their families to stay afloat, not just for spending money.” But the recession is putting teens up against older, more experienced workers vouching for the same positions. One of the teens who participated in the series, Bianca Rivera, 16, has been looking for a job at a day care center for six months. She says “ They ask you your age, and when you say 16 they say, ‘OK, okay we’ll give you a call after you sign the application,’ and they never call.”

But, the recession struggles aren’t just affecting the present, it’s also affecting the future. Teens are having more issues affording college. Derek Garcia, 17, who also participated in the special, says “My friends got into their first choice colleges, but they can’t go. A lot of colleges are very expensive- $40,000 to $50,000- and they just didn’t get enough financial aid.” And with rising health insurance prices, and companies covering less, many teens are finding themselves uninsured, putting them at a high risk for possible life-threatening diseases. Even these basic needs are being denied to our youth, and it’s scary to think of the dismal outcome which is becoming more prominent with each passing day.

Usually adults look back on their childhood as a sort of whimsical. One with no cares, responsibilities, or concerns. My parents, at least, were baby boomers, and were born into a world filled with prosperity. Sometimes, during my conversations with them, they’ll reflect about how they could get a cherry coke for 5 cents, or how they’d get a Mars bar for 15 cents. It all seems so alien to me, living in a time where getting a popcorn and soda at the movie theater costs more than the movie itself. It makes me long for my parent’s fairytale stories of innocence and happiness to become a reality again, but for now there are no fairytales, just wishes for one to come.

Top 5 Companies for Teen Jobs:

1.) JcPenny’s


3.) Walmart

4.) Burger King

5.) Kohl’s

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