For at least the past several generations, it has been a foregone conclusion that many teens and young adults would test the limits by experimenting with underage drinking, illicit drugs, and sex. Those who refused, in fact, were often labeled “squares” and excluded from the “cool kids” club.
Generation Z is changing all of that.
Researchers have already begun looking into this apparent generational anomaly and have identified a few overarching factors that seem to contribute to the trend.
- The most obvious commonality is that everyone is preoccupied with smartphones and other high-tech devices, which has cut down on the types of in-person gatherings that have led to peer pressure in previous generations.
- Laws regulating cigarette and alcohol sales have become stricter and harder for would-be rule-breakers to bypass.
- More students seem to be thinking about their futures in an uncertain economy and believe that drug use, drinking, or sex could hurt their chances of future success.
- For as-yet unexplained reasons, those in Generation Z are postponing major milestones such as driving, which have historically been associated with experimenting with risky behavior.
Here are the stats
About 90% of 10th graders surveyed in the 90s said they went to at least one party per month — and that number has dropped to just 57% as of 2017.
In 2003, about 1 in 4 young people in the U.K. said they had consumed alcohol within the past week, compared to only 8% just over a decade later.
Although marijuana is arguably becoming more readily available and socially acceptable, only about one-third of teens between 15 and 16 said they’d used it in 2019, whereas 42% said the same in 1997.
Finally, 37% of U.S. teens between 14 and 15 reported having had sex, nearly twice the current number.