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For Teens, Music and Movies Still Reign

by Jane Wangersky | November 27th, 2015 | Entertainment, Teens

teen listening to music (400x400)It can be a challenge to write about teens and entertainment. It’s true I have 11 years’ uninterrupted experience of mothering teens (with the baby turning 13 just before the firstborn turned 20), but it can still be hard to tell the difference between a teen who’s having a good time and one who’s merely not quite bored to death — yet.

There are several reasons for that — many teens don’t like to seem too enthusiastic about anything; with handheld devices and headsets, it can be hard to see what your teen is actually doing, as catching up with friends, watching videos, and choosing music to listen to look pretty much the same; and talking to your teen about entertainment can be awkward, even if you have any idea where to start.

I figure, if a teen isn’t complaining and seems to be in a good mood when they finish an activity, they’ve been entertained, or close enough.

Also, I try to be aware of the big picture — what’s trending among teens in general. Some of that I do by reading the news. When strangers taking surveys ask teens about their habits, the answers can be surprising to parents.

For example, a study by Common Sense Media in November found that what teens do most often with their media is listen to music — 66% say they do it every day. Only 45% use social media every day. The survey also found, disturbingly, that “at least half of teens say they often or sometimes watch TV (51%), use social networking (50%), text (60%) and listen to music (76%) while doing homework.” And two thirds of them said they didn’t think it affected their work. This might be something to look into with your own teen.

Another survey, taken in Canada (but I think we can generalize the findings to all North America), found that in spite of the many new ways to view movies, actual theatre attendance had gone up among 13- to 17-year-olds. It held steady among older teens and adults up to age 24. Obviously, the experience of going out to see the latest movie is still special for teens — overpriced popcorn and all.

Looking back over all these findings, I begin to think things haven’t changed so much since I was in high school. Teens still love listening to music, distracting themselves from their homework, and going to the movies. Maybe their world isn’t  so new and strange after all.

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