They have technology, they have unprecedented disposable income (well -- they did, until recently) and they have self esteem. Loads of it.
A new study suggests that current high school students also have a problem: they're over-confident underperformers.
The study, published in the November issue of Psychological Science (and summarized in the November issue of Multihousing Professional, which obsesses over trends of any kind and what they mean for landlords), compared answers given by kids in 1975 and 2006 to 13 questions that had to do with students' views of themselves.
Some notable excerpts:
- In 1975, less than 37 per cent of teens thought they'd be "very good" spouses, compared to 56 per cent surveyed in 2006.
- Almost two-thirds of teens in 2006 thought they'd be exemplary employees, compared to about half those polled in 1975.
- Interestingly, measures of their own competence -- for example, agreeing with statements like, "I am able to do things as well as most other people" -- didn't rise from the '76 study to the '06 one.
You could argue that two points in time, three decades apart, don't necessarily measure a trend -- they only portray those two points in time.
You could also say that teenagers today have every right to be more self confident: they have more technology, they have more money, they have more information at their disposal (on the other hand, being more self confident about success in marriage seems kind of foolhardy...).
In 1975, I turned 16. In 2006, Middle Daughter turned 17. I think she's a throwback to my generation: socially and politically conscious, aware of the world, perhaps a little psychologically tortured. I'd love to know where she fits along this trend line, if that's what it is.
I'd love to know how we would have compared in our answers to this survey. We both hate narcissists and perfectionists; we both hate puffery and self-promotion; we both find The Office and Team America howlingly funny.
My niece, Middle Daughter's first cousin, loved watching Gabe play tee ball. A kid couldn't strike out, everybody got to bat, the coaches were always yelling, "Good job!," even if a kid was sitting in the dirt as the ball rolled by. My niece called it "Self Esteem-ball."
Is that all we've taught our kids to play?