Kids Don't Seem Like Kids Anymore. What's the Deal?

My childhood looked a little something like this: shopping at Justice, posting silly (some may say cringey) pictures on Instagram, and just not wanting to grow up. I always felt like my peers had a similar childhood--we were all fine with being kids. It seems like, though, that the new generation is dead-set on growing up or at least trying to look like it on the outside. 

I feel like the urge to want to grow up for many kids and pre-teens nowadays comes from social media. When I first started using social media, it was light-hearted. We felt like we could post pictures of whatever we wanted. Being on social media today, however, I have noticed that this isn't quite the same. It is all about how many likes you receive instead of posting content that actually rings true to your heart. This is something that undoubtedly has a negative effect on today's youth. If they are not receiving outside validation, such as likes or positive comments, for posts about their interests, they may feel like they are being rejected by society. In response, they may begin to change their personality and appearance in order to appeal to modern "norms."

Unfortunately, the media tends to lack pre-teen representation. Individuals within this age-group will then look to those above them: teenagers and young adults. Both of these age-groups are prominent on social media. It's no surprise, then, that pre-teens these days seem to dress more like teenagers and young adults than they do kids. Kids and pre-teens see who is popular on social media, and they try to mirror their appearance, behaviors, and interests.

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I wouldn't mind these changes in pre-teen culture if I felt like they were bringing positivity. I fear that the trends pre-teens are following will prove to be more harmful than anything else. Everyone is trying to fit into a cookie-cutter shape, and this may ultimately result in fewer feelings of individuality. In order to feel more "unique," people may start to tear each other down (or are they already doing just that?).

Have you ever heard of the "put a finger down" challenge on TikTok? There is one such challenge titled "put a finger down, stay the f*** away from me challenge." In this audio, a girl lists off things she thinks are "basic," such as liking the color pink or a popular show. Challenges like these on a platform that many young people are on certainly do much more harm than they do good. It is basically suggesting that if you like something that is "basic," some people want nothing to do with you. This can be extremely damaging to the self-esteem.

I worry for the younger generation as they try to navigate life when being raised on social media platforms. Our lives become public on social media, and when you're young and easily influenced, it becomes a dangerous game.