Children’s Writing Weblog

Young Adult Notes: Why Today’s Kids Seem So Comfortable With One Another

Posted on: April 13, 2011

young adult writing tip

Young Adult Writing Tip – Today's Kids

Actually Like Each Other!  🙂

 

When I was 14, I was terrified of three things:  heights, vegetables and girls.  Thankfully, I got over the last two, although I'm still not a fan of tall places.

If I were to write a young adult story about a similar young man with those fears living in today's world, my teenage readers may nod in understanding with the the first two concerns, but scratch their heads at the last one.   That's because, for many kids, the barriers that used to exist between the sexes, between social cliques and even between grade levels are far less a concern than they were when we were young.

Laura and I have been taking our 15 year old music nut to a bunch of concerts to see artists popular with his age group. (An aside – go see My Chemical Romance, they're really, really good.)  At these shows, one thing strikes you straight away — these kids all act like they know each other.  Giant groups of kids mingle together, hug one another and act as if they've been buddies all their lives.

Now, when I was a kid going to shows (and no, it wasn't to see Al Jolson and Enrico Caruso, smart ass), that would never happen.  I went with my boys and we didn't mix with anyone.  It was an arena filled with thousands of small tribes, all eyeing one another warily.  But take any bunch of teenagers today, toss 'em in a room and it's kumbiya time.

I asked my son about this and he had a simple answer:  these kids — who have never met in person — already know each other via Facebook.  They're online friends, or they're friends of friends and thus, they're buddies.  Typical exchange:

Kid 1:  "Hey, what school do you go to?"

Kid 2: "West High in Murphystown."

Kid: "I go to South High in Elmwood. But I'm Facebook friends with Joe Smith from West High."

Kid 2:  "Cool.  Joe's a great guy.  What's your name?"  (Gets name, whips out smart phone, befriends Kid 1.  They are now pals.)

 

Now of course there are other reasons than social media to explain the higher comfort level teenagers have with one another today, and I'm certain there are still no shortage of alienated kids and teens who get tongue-tied around the opposite sex, but the point is this:  If you think that alienation from peers is anywhere near as prevalent among young adults as it was back in your day, you need to do some more observation.  Go to some concerts, wander around the mall, stay out the way and watch the way your readers connect with one another. 

You'll get a better understanding of your market — and you may even start feeling a little bit better about our future.  In a world where fear and mistrust tend to get all the attention, it's nice to know that today's enemies may be tomorrow's Facebook friends.

 


Interested in learning how to write a book and send it to children's book publishers? Come on over to The CBI Clubhouse for audios, videos, insider writing tips and much, much more!

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