The next time you complain about how you’re not getting enough sleep, stop and think about how much sleep you didn’t get as a teenager. With all those 8 a.m. classes, it’s amazing anyone was able to make it through fifth period without smashing their head on the desk in utter exhaustion. And kids today are getting even less sleep than you did when you did: A new study has found that teenagers are sleeping two hours less than they should.
The recommended amount of time that teens should sleep is nine to 10 hours a night, but the study found that more than half the kids between 15 and 19 weren’t even getting seven hours a sleep. That percentage has decreased from 1991, when a little bit more than half of teenagers were getting the adequate amount of sleep every night.
The reason why teenagers are getting less sleep these days than generations before them? Technology, of course. Teens today have even more technology and technological gadgets in their grasp than kids did in high school even 10 years ago. (Think about it this way: Facebook is only 11 years old.) Who has time to sleep when you have Facebook stalking and homework to finish?
But sleep isn’t the only thing different for teenagers today. Here are nine other changes between this generation of teens and the ones before them. Some things will give you hope for kids these days, while others... not so much.
1. They Are Less Likely To Be Sexually Assaulted
Let's start with some surprising good news: sexual assault against 12 to 17-year-olds has decreased by more than half since the mid-1990s. A 2013 report on sexual violence against women over the age of 12 found that although the number of attempts of rape and sexual assault remain unchanged, between 1995 and 2010, the number of victims dropped from 556,000 to 270,000.
2. They Are More Likely To Be Bullied
A 2009 national survey found that in 2001, 14 percent of high school and middle school kids reported some form of bullying, but in 2009, that percentage went up to 32. The reasons for the increase in bullying cases is due, in part, to the rise of cyberbullying of course — 42 percent of teens have been threatened online.
3. They Are Less Likely To Commit Suicide
Despite the fact that the Internet allows for easier access to bullying, suicide rates amongst 10 to 24-year-olds have actually decreased since 1991. Between 1991 and 2009, rates dropped from 9.24 to 7.21 suicides per 100,000 in that age range.
While that may seem surprising because of campaigns like It Gets Better, the fact remains that suicide is still the second leading cause of death amongst teens. (The first cause is unintentional injuries.)
4. They Are Waiting Longer To Have Sex
A Guttmacher Institute survey between the years 2006 and 2008 found that 11 percent of teen girls had had sex before the age of 15, compared to the 19 percent of 1995. Boys, too, are also waiting longer. In 1995, 21 percent had had sex before the age of 15, but by 2008, that number had decreased to 14 percent.
The CDC also found that while 54 percent of ninth graders had had sex in 1991, by 2013, that percentage had dropped to 47.
5. Teen Pregnancy Is At A Record Low
A 2013 study by Office of Adolescent Health found that teen pregnancy rates are at an all time low. Between 1990 and 2010, the teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. dropped by 51 percent. Not only because teens are waiting longer to do the deed, but when they do finally are doing it, more of them are using contraception.
6. They Are Just As Likely To Use Drugs
Although drug use among teenagers rose from the mid-1970s to the early 80s, by 1992, only 25 percent of teens had tried a drug other than marijuana before they graduated. In 2009, that percentage dropped to 24, but by 2013, the number rose to 25 percent.
7. They Are In Worse Shape
According to the Center for Disease Control, cardiorespiratory fitness in teens has dropped, with only half of boys and one-third of girls between the ages of 12 and 15 having what the CDC calls “adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness.”
Cardiorespiratory fitness is measured by how well the respiratory and circulatory systems work together during physical activity to provide the necessary support for the body. From 1999 to 2012, the number of teens with that adequate level has dropped from 52.4 percent to 42.2 percent.
8. They Are Actually Less Likely To Binge Drink
You surprised? According to Monitoring the Future, a national survey of teens and alcohol use, binge drinking amongst 12th graders is actually lower than it’s been since 1976, and the amount of teenagers who have been drunk in the past year is also as low as it has ever been.
While binge drinking still remains a trend among teenagers, a 2013 study by JAMA Pediatrics found that binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) peaked in the 1970s and early 80s, and has been on decline since 2005.
That said, extreme binge drinking (10 or more drinks in one sitting) is a growing epidemic amongst teenagers, with one in 10 high school seniors reporting extreme binge drinking at least once and 5.6 percent of seniors having had 15 or more drinks at one time.
9. They Consume More Media Than Anyone
According to The Washington Post, teenagers spend 7.5 hours a day consuming some sort of media, and the amount of time kids are on their phones went from 20 minutes in 1999 to an hour in 2013. Studies by the Pew Research Center found that more than three-quarters of teens have cellphones, and that’s up from the 45 percent who had them in 2004. In just the past five years, the average amount of texts a teenager sends has jumped from 50 to 60 a day. (The average adult sends 40.)
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