'Becoming aware of the plight of the citizens of Darfur motivated me to take action and my success mobilizing a campaign against the genocide molded me into the leader I am today. I serve as President of my class, lead my school's movement to prevent gun violence, intern at my Assemblywoman's office, am an active member of the Student Government as well as in a wide range of community activities, and this past summer helped build a schoolhouse for poor children in Africa.'? -Zak, Age 15
This, my friends, is an example of how today's teens are preparing for their future. They are literally involved in EVERYTHING.
Recently, we conducted an online contest for one of our clients. The contest, aimed at teens, elicited response after response just like the above. More than 5,700 of them to be exact. Class Presidents, Student Government Leaders, Key Club Members, Student Council Representatives, Community Service Volunteers, and the list goes on.
As early as 13, today's youth choose (or feel obligated) to participate in everything they possibly can in hopes of getting into a good college (extracurricular activities are one of the most important criteria colleges use to determine admission) and solidifying a financially and emotionally fulfilling career. Or maybe their parents make them do it - teens who don't participate in after school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes, use marijuana, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2008).
Either way, my biggest question is - are we creating monsters? What are the teens 10, 15, 20 years from now going to be like when they start preparing for their futures even earlier than today's youth? (Newborns with resumes and infants logging community service hours anyone?)
What will happen to riding your bike to get ice cream with your friends, going swimming on a hot summer day, and the thousands of other carefree activities I used to do as a young teen? Will childhood become all business? I sure hope not ' because that bright pink Schwinn and blue one-piece Speedo bring me back to some of the best days of my life.