What is a teenage problem

Teenage Problems: How Modernity Produced the Rebel Youth

DUSSELDORF. “And you were such a sweet child!” Sing the “Doctors” in their current song “Boy”. Not at all, says Robert Epstein, founding director of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies in Concord, Massachusetts. Adolescent rebellion is not a biological necessity, but is simply an “invention” of modernity, writes the psychologist in the journal “Brain & Spirit”.

Because if troubled youth were a general phenomenon, we would have to find them all over the world. In fact, however, it is almost exclusively restricted to western industrial societies. Research on teenagers in 186 cultures around the world found that antisocial behavior and mental disorders are much less common in teenagers outside of industrialized societies. For most of human history, adolescence was a rather peaceful transition to adulthood. Epstein believes that the way young people interact is crucial: In non-industrial or pre-industrial societies, they spend most of their time with adults and are given responsibility.

The turmoil we see among adolescents today, according to Epstein, is the result of an artificial prolongation of childhood well beyond the onset of puberty. The youth became more and more infantilized and at the same time isolated from the adult world. She lives in an "artificial substitute world": modern teenage culture. This is an artificially created market for which the adolescence phase is pushed back further and further. Pop stars show how it is done (for example “Die Ärzte”, who even as 40-year-olds still sing about teenage problems). Pop music, brand fetishism, computer games generate, according to Epstein, inner emptiness, the young people are under-challenged. “Nowadays, teenagers are trapped in the world of their peers. Isolated from older role models and mistakenly treated like children, it is no wonder that many behave carelessly or irresponsibly. "