Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Pew Surveys American Teenagers

Lots of interesting data in a survey of US teens (ages 13-17) Pew did in 2018. For one thing, all that "find your passion" crap people have been feeding them seems to have had a big impact, and large percentages think it is very important to have a career they enjoy and to help others. Interest in getting married and having children shrinks every year, although of course many people change their minds about these things when they get older.

Their biggest worry is mental health.

And this is just as true for richer kids as poor kids. As you might expect, richer kids ($75,000 is the 60th percentile in US household income) worry less about poverty, gangs, and so on, but just as much about anxiety and depression.

A major continuing trend is that 68% of girls say they plan to attend a four-year college, vs. 51% of boys.

As to what they worry about in their own lives, getting grades comes out at the top. I honestly find this a bit puzzling; I certainly did not think that most of my peers in high school cared about good grades. This reminds me of a survey I saw many years ago which asked parents what they thought were the biggest problems in their kids lives and then asked kids what they thought. The parents said, drugs, gangs, sex, etc., and the kids said school and their parents.

An in one final note, 45% of parents worry that they spend too little time with their kids, but only 25% of kids want more time with their parents.

1 comment:

David said...

I take it you found this survey via the link in the NYT editorial, "Should Work Be Passion, or Duty?" The thing is, I don't think finding your passion is such crap, nor do I think teens only believe that because they're told to believe it. My experience is that teens today receive a lot of pressure to think about their work futures--study, or you won't get a job--and a lot of pressure from parents, educators, media, and above all, of course, employers and admissions committees, to make work the center of their lives. And if you're going to have to devote so much time and energy to something, it would be good not to hate it, especially when most teens are busy finding their actual passion in other things, like watching sports and playing video games.

Part of what does make "find your passion" crap, to the extent that it is, is that most college profs and admins really mean, "Find out that you're passionate about accounting (or pre-med, or corporate finance, or ending world hunger, etc.) and not passionate about binge-watching Game of Thrones again"--when most students, poor things, simply aren't going to discover something creditable that they're passionate about. "Building a business? That's be cool I guess. When is the game on?"

Yes, I know most work by definition is drudgery, and so "find your passion" raises expectations too high. But if our concept of work is going to be defined by the reality of drudgery, perhaps we should require less of it.