taking teenagers seriously

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taking teenagers seriously

Postby zenten » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:15 pm UTC

This is a bit different than the topic of restricting what people can do in terms of the law based on their age, so I'm thinking another thread is appropriate.

Anyway, I've noticed something in posting here. XKCD tends to have a lot more teenagers than I'm used to in an internet forum (or less non-teenagers, depending on how you look at it). I've also noticed that when I'm talking to someone and what they say seems to make no sense, on a consistent basis (everyone has brain farts), they are likely 17 or under.

I'm wondering if there's anything useful I can do with this information. If I get into a debate with someone in their twenties or thirties (40+ people usually know better than to try to debate on the internet, and those that do debate tend to be really good at it) things can get somewhere. We can see each other's perspectives, and one of us might legitimately convince the other of something.

However, with adolescents it seems different. Sometimes I agree with what they're saying. When I don't, nothing really comes of it, because they aren't generally making a good rational argument, and they don't seem to listen to one either.

I don't think this is really me being biased. Partly because before I started posting here my bias went the other way, I do have this strong urge to "stick it to the man", and I'm more inclined to listen to someone who is disenfranchised. I also remember being a teenager, and those memories say I was right a lot (but as I think about it this might just be memories that are distorted). Plus, my reactions to what people are saying are usually developed before I learn the person's age. It's just at some point I see the person I've marked as "kind of nuts, and not really bright" post something saying that they're 15 or so.

So yeah, what are your thoughts on this?

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:28 pm UTC

I remember being a teenager. Hell, i'm only 22 now*. I also remember how painfully retarded i was. I'm probably a bit of an extreme example, i mean i was really retarded as a teenager. But that doesn't change teenager's tendancies to be retarded, and then insist that they're brilliant.

That said, you can't just assume someone's argument is wrong because they're a teenager. As my history teacher used to say: "Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while." If they don't make a rational argument, assume they're wrong because of that. Not just age.

You can also sometimes guess you're dealing with a teenager based on the quality of their argument.



*Which means i'm still pretty retarded, just more aware of it.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby BVD » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:53 pm UTC

[off topic]Do hogs actually hunt for acorns? I've always heard that as "Even a blind hog finds a truffle every once in a while," which is a silly saying to begin with because pigs hunt for truffles by sense of smell.[/off topic]

I take everything that anyone says with a grain of salt, and anything "kids" say (I'm only 19, so I can hardly bash on teenagers) with two. I would treat everything that I say the same way if I were any of you, too, because I hardly presume to think that I know everything. I do like to think that I reason most of my arguments out pretty well - not that I haven't had to make some major retractions from time to time - but just because it's a coherent argument doesn't mean it's necessarily right. I don't think that the "oldies" have a monopoly on rightness either, so to speak, but at least they have the life experience to back up what they're saying when it comes to certain topics. I get the feeling that they're less idealistic most of the time, too, which accounts for less stubbornness and more willingness to compromise...or to ignore the occasional idiot.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Robin S » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:56 pm UTC

I am a teenager (though I just about miss falling into your "17 or under" category). I like to think that I make sense most of the time, except when I'm angry, when I tend to take a break from posting anyway.

Obviously, that doesn't mean that I'm never wrong, or that I don't have misconceptions about anything.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Retrograde Motion » Wed Oct 31, 2007 3:10 pm UTC

I'm sure a few people would agree with me when I say that when I was a teen, I though I was smart and knew a lot etc etc but now that I'm nearly 30, I can look back and see how much I've grown since then. A lot of teenagers, especially those under 17, just lack life experience and communication skills. It's easy to hide behind a screen name on the web and just say "well I'm right, so there"...which I've seen many of the younger set do.

That is not to say, of course, that there aren't plenty of very articulate and intelligent teens on the web. Heck, there are plenty of 'adults' who act like they are 15. I think it becomes clear relatively quickly when talking with someone what kind of conversation you can expect to have (especially if you have opposite viewpoints), regardless of age, and at that point if you feel you're not going to get anything out of talking with that person, then just don't respond.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby zingmaster » Wed Oct 31, 2007 3:19 pm UTC

I've met people in their mid-20s who are less tolerable than some fifteen-year-olds. I miss your "under 17" mark too, but I'd like to think that even at 17, I wasn't some rampaging bundle of hormones and stupidity. Then again, that could be my naivete getting to me again.

I would agree though, that we people under 20 really do lack a lot of experience. That decreases exponentially with each of these coming years leading up to 20, but I know I still have a lot to learn. At least I haven't done anything perpetually stupid, like drugs or alcohol. In that sense, I'm taking responsibility for myself. Not to look down upon people who experiment with themselves--just that I don't agree with people who feel the need to do that sort of thing. But this belongs in another thread.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Indon » Wed Oct 31, 2007 4:42 pm UTC

I've seen people who don't make sense in their discussion who are far older than I am; I don't think it's so much a matter of age, as of experience in using the communication medium.

When I first started discussing online, I was pretty clueless on how the medium worked, and I wasn't very good at text-based communication in a general sense. Once I learned those things, however, I not only became much more concise in conveying my point, but I got better at understanding what others mean.

The biggest communication problem I've seen is vocabulary-based. A person will have a concept, but not know the word, or worse yet know the wrong word, and when they attempt to convey the concept, people don't know what the heck they're saying.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby janusx » Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:12 pm UTC

I'm 21, but I've been arguing in the same rational, logical manner since I was at least 15. Although my exact ideologies have fluctuated over the years, I cannot remember going through a period of illogicality (note: I didn't think that was a real word but firefox seems to think so...).

However I think a great deal of teens do. Many think they are infallible, yet lack any coherent argument. Interestingly they seem to be very easily influenced by flows of less than accurate internet information and such lend themselves to not making judgments for themselves.

My biggest problem with many teenagers, and in fact a huge number of people of all ages is that they never take the time to think about anything.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby tiny » Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:32 pm UTC

My mom wrote an educational programme to help instructors (Ausbilder?) solve problems with apprentices. I only proof read it once, but I'll see what I still remember:

- During the teenage years the brain is being rewired like crazy. It's a wonder, teenagers learn anything at all. Whatever they have to deal with in their life (parents, school, friendships, love, sexuality...), it's tough for them since their nervous system has other stuff to do.
- Sadly, the parts of the brain that have to do with getting/having opinions and questioning others develop before the parts that manage speech are taken care of. So they already think grown up, but they can't really put it into words - not even for themselfs.
- Teenagers have a great need of being taken seriously. They are trying to figure out, who they are and who they want to be. They are constructing a picture of themselfs and the world around them by questioning as well as eating up every dogma that appeals to them. They need other people to reassure them on every step of the way, regardless of the fact that they are changing their opinions with the weather.
- Teenagers lack experience but would never admit to it in an argument (and if they do, they'll use a 'but' and then tell you why it doesn't matter or why this only counts for other teenagers or that they know about it so it's not that bad).
- Teenagers have hormone induced moodswings. They are constantly PMSing. Boths sexes.

And for face-to-face encounters with teenagers:
It sounds funny, but teenagers aren't able to identify fear on the faces of adults. Kids can do it, adults can do it, but teenagers simply can't.

So basically teenagers are poor bastards with their own brains playing against them. That sounds like the definition of a retard to me. Luckily, some of them grow out of it sooner or later.
Sarcasm aside I personally try to take teenagers as seriously as I can, and avoid to stress their social skills since this'll only stress *me* out.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby zenten » Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:38 pm UTC

tiny wrote:My mom wrote an educational programme to help instructors (Ausbilder?) solve problems with apprentices. I only proof read it once, but I'll see what I still remember:

- During the teenage years the brain is being rewired like crazy. It's a wonder, teenagers learn anything at all. Whatever they have to deal with in their life (parents, school, friendships, love, sexuality...), it's tough for them since their nervous system has other stuff to do.
- Sadly, the parts of the brain that have to do with getting/having opinions and questioning others develop before the parts that manage speech are taken care of. So they already think grown up, but they can't really put it into words - not even for themselfs.
- Teenagers have a great need of being taken seriously. They are trying to figure out, who they are and who they want to be. They are constructing a picture of themselfs and the world around them by questioning as well as eating up every dogma that appeals to them. They need other people to reassure them on every step of the way, regardless of the fact that they are changing their opinions with the weather.
- Teenagers lack experience but would never admit to it in an argument (and if they do, they'll use a 'but' and then tell you why it doesn't matter or why this only counts for other teenagers or that they know about it so it's not that bad).
- Teenagers have hormone induced moodswings. They are constantly PMSing. Boths sexes.

And for face-to-face encounters with teenagers:
It sounds funny, but teenagers aren't able to identify fear on the faces of adults. Kids can do it, adults can do it, but teenagers simply can't.

So basically teenagers are poor bastards with their own brains playing against them. That sounds like the definition of a retard to me. Luckily, some of them grow out of it sooner or later.
Sarcasm aside I personally try to take teenagers as seriously as I can, and avoid to stress their social skills since this'll only stress *me* out.


Oh, I wasn't advocating making fun of a teenager, or anything like that. I remember it being a rather hellish time myself. But there's a difference between respecting someone by not making them feel bad, and respecting someone's arguments and actually giving them weight.

I also am not saying that I won't trust the opinions of an adolescent either, depending on the topic at least. A lot of things can be examined without too many facts at hand, and by the time you're 15 you've had enough time to get a fair amount of experience on some subjects (a teenager who has been coding since the age of 7 is someone I'd expect to know a fair bit about the subject).

And by the way, saying "stupid" or "retarded" (yes, I was guilty of that in another thread a few months ago) is neither productive, nor accurate.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Katastrophy » Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:46 pm UTC

Wow... Honestly, I think this forum has the highest percentage of smart, well-spoken, reasonable people that I have ever seen on a forum. I haven't been around long, but I really haven't seen anyone I'd call stupid yet. If you want moronic internet fights, I can show you them. Complete with e-penis comparisons.

As for age being a factor... It's really not. Unless you're kicking around forums where the average age is 30, which I haven't personally seen, I find just as many asshats hit the low 20s as they do the teens. But really, this forum is full of well behaved people. I actually have seen more mods* over-reacting than anything else.

*My apologies to the mods, but in my opinion, this forum has some really strict rules. I have never seen anyone so jumped on for A) Not posting in an introduction thread and B) Not creating a (comic) thread in the exact right format. Nor have I ever seen mods run so freely amongst other user's post, editting them to put their comments (or spelling corrections!) in instead of just quoting them like a normal user.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Indon » Wed Oct 31, 2007 6:48 pm UTC

tiny wrote:- During the teenage years the brain is being rewired like crazy. It's a wonder, teenagers learn anything at all. Whatever they have to deal with in their life (parents, school, friendships, love, sexuality...), it's tough for them since their nervous system has other stuff to do.

Doesn't this imply that teenagers are more capable of learning? Brain rewiring is basically what learning is, after all.

tiny wrote:- Sadly, the parts of the brain that have to do with getting/having opinions and questioning others develop before the parts that manage speech are taken care of. So they already think grown up, but they can't really put it into words - not even for themselfs.

I'm pretty sure both are sufficiently well-developed. If anything, the biggest problem the teenage brain has is in regards to inhibitions (and I may even be able to dig up a citation for the study I remember hearing about this from). At least, that's what I remember from my teenage years.

tiny wrote:- Teenagers have a great need of being taken seriously. They are trying to figure out, who they are and who they want to be. They are constructing a picture of themselfs and the world around them by questioning as well as eating up every dogma that appeals to them. They need other people to reassure them on every step of the way, regardless of the fact that they are changing their opinions with the weather.
- Teenagers lack experience but would never admit to it in an argument (and if they do, they'll use a 'but' and then tell you why it doesn't matter or why this only counts for other teenagers or that they know about it so it's not that bad).

These are both culturally-based phenomenon, and I'm not even sure they're right. Why would teenagers be any more prone to soul-searching than an individual of another age? And why would they be possessed of less humility?

tiny wrote:- Teenagers have hormone induced moodswings. They are constantly PMSing. Boths sexes.

And for face-to-face encounters with teenagers:
It sounds funny, but teenagers aren't able to identify fear on the faces of adults. Kids can do it, adults can do it, but teenagers simply can't.


If you happen to have a citation demonstrating these, I'd love to read it. More the second than the first, though.

tiny wrote:So basically teenagers are poor bastards with their own brains playing against them. That sounds like the definition of a retard to me. Luckily, some of them grow out of it sooner or later.
Sarcasm aside I personally try to take teenagers as seriously as I can, and avoid to stress their social skills since this'll only stress *me* out.


I don't really feel your conclusion follows what you've said.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby 22/7 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 6:57 pm UTC

I tend to judge someone to be young and inexperienced (and maybe unworthy of me reading their posts) for things like blatant errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. that indicate to me that the person on the other end can't formulate a decent idea and convey it in the language in which they've chosen to communicate. I'm not talking about leaving out a word here or there, or the occasional typo, I'm talking about the kind of writing where the fact that they just don't know how to put a solid thought together becomes fairly obvious. I generally associate this with age, though I guess I don't know if that's fair or not.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby zenten » Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:01 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
tiny wrote:- During the teenage years the brain is being rewired like crazy. It's a wonder, teenagers learn anything at all. Whatever they have to deal with in their life (parents, school, friendships, love, sexuality...), it's tough for them since their nervous system has other stuff to do.

Doesn't this imply that teenagers are more capable of learning? Brain rewiring is basically what learning is, after all.



I'm not sure if it's for the reason you think it is, but yes, teenagers are better at learning for the most part than adults. There's a reason that teenagers tend to be in school.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Robin S » Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:03 pm UTC

Indon wrote:Brain rewiring is basically what learning is, after all.
Brain rewiring can include, but is not limited to, learning. Learning is stimulus-dependent; a lot of the rewiring during adolescence is "automatic" and ubiquitous.

22/7 wrote:I generally associate this with age, though I guess I don't know if that's fair or not.
Age certainly affects it, but it clearly isn't the only factor in play (hence the case of 20-year-olds acting less "maturely" than teenagers).
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby 22/7 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:08 pm UTC

Robin S wrote:
22/7 wrote:I generally associate this with age, though I guess I don't know if that's fair or not.
Age certainly affects it, but it clearly isn't the only factor in play (hence the case of 20-year-olds acting less "maturely" than teenagers).


I meant I generally associate atrocious grammar and spelling to age, but yeah.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Robin S » Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:20 pm UTC

Same goes for spelling and grammar, though age is possibly less of a distinguishing factor there. I think the extent to which spelling and grammar abilities increase with age drops off quite young.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby HSG » Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:55 pm UTC

It seems to me that, generally, teenagers have made it to the stage in their lives where they have the basic skills required to debate topics(that is to say that they can put together a somewhat cohesive argument), but they have yet to acquire the skills that are needed to make a debate effective. These skills would be things such as questioning the validity of one's argument, attempting to see things from someone else's perspective, or simply acknowledging that they are, in fact, incorrect. This leads to frustrating circular debates which only result in anger because one(or both of the) side(s) are positive that they are correct. This certainly happens with people other than teenagers, but it seems to be more common with the teenage population. This would make sense, as they often lack the life experience to realize when this is happening to them and to prevent it.


Also,

22/7 wrote:I generally associate this with age, though I guess I don't know if that's fair or not.


I think that this happens for two reasons, one of them age-based and one of them generation-based(and perhaps age-based as well, we'll have to wait a couple more years to really know).

Age Based: Teenagers lack knowledge that in presenting an argument with awful spelling or grammar, they are immediately putting into question the legitimacy of the argument. Either they do not acknowledge that this is the case, or if they do, they claim that it shouldn't be the case and thus they ignore it.

Generation Based: The generation of adolescents online really seems to be the first generation in which misspelling words, the use of acronyms for almost everything, and the ignoring of grammar is tolerated, or even encouraged, for the sake of speed. Perhaps we will see these same people in 10 or so years typing in the same way, indicating some kind of generational cause. Maybe they'll grow out of it and begin attempting to type with accurate spelling and grammar, indicating an entirely age-based cause. It just seems to me that having a generation raised on instant messaging and text messaging must come into play somewhere.


For the record, I'm 16. I won't pretend that the things that I've listed don't happen to me; I've done similar, foolish things many times. However, I work very hard to keep my arguments reasonable and to admit that I'm wrong when I'm wrong. I'm probably less logical than a significant portion of adults, but by keeping this in mind I feel that I can make progress when debating with others.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby zenten » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:01 pm UTC

HSG wrote:I think that this happens for two reasons, one of them age-based and one of them generation-based(and perhaps age-based as well, we'll have to wait a couple more years to really know).

Age Based: Teenagers lack knowledge that in presenting an argument with awful spelling or grammar, they are immediately putting into question the legitimacy of the argument. Either they do not acknowledge that this is the case, or if they do, they claim that it shouldn't be the case and thus they ignore it.

Generation Based: The generation of adolescents online really seems to be the first generation in which misspelling words, the use of acronyms for almost everything, and the ignoring of grammar is tolerated, or even encouraged, for the sake of speed. Perhaps we will see these same people in 10 or so years typing in the same way, indicating some kind of generational cause. Maybe they'll grow out of it and begin attempting to type with accurate spelling and grammar, indicating an entirely age-based cause. It just seems to me that having a generation raised on instant messaging and text messaging must come into play somewhere.


For the record, I'm 16. I won't pretend that the things that I've listed don't happen to me; I've done similar, foolish things many times. However, I work very hard to keep my arguments reasonable and to admit that I'm wrong when I'm wrong. I'm probably less logical than a significant portion of adults, but by keeping this in mind I feel that I can make progress when debating with others.


When I was 16, 16 year olds wrote this way all the time online. I don't see it as being common among 26 year olds now.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby 22/7 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:26 pm UTC

HSG wrote:For the record, I'm 16. I won't pretend that the things that I've listed don't happen to me; I've done similar, foolish things many times. However, I work very hard to keep my arguments reasonable and to admit that I'm wrong when I'm wrong. I'm probably less logical than a significant portion of adults, but by keeping this in mind I feel that I can make progress when debating with others.


For the record, I assumed until this point that you were 21-30 from my initial reading. Again, probably due to the fact that you didn't have glaring issues with grammar/spelling, and the fact that you were able to convey coherent ideas.

But I think you're pretty dead on as to at least the first reason you presented, and I could see the second being true as well. I was raised with a cell phone (though it wasn't mine) and did a fair amount of texting and IMing when I was in high school, and I never really saw much in terms of the speed > spelling kind of thing. Of course, I'm also the guy without a qwerty keyboard on his phone who still puts apostrophes, commas, and periods where they belong in my texts.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Robin S » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:39 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
HSG wrote:[...]

Generation Based: The generation of adolescents online really seems to be the first generation in which misspelling words, the use of acronyms for almost everything, and the ignoring of grammar is tolerated, or even encouraged, for the sake of speed. Perhaps we will see these same people in 10 or so years typing in the same way, indicating some kind of generational cause. Maybe they'll grow out of it and begin attempting to type with accurate spelling and grammar, indicating an entirely age-based cause. It just seems to me that having a generation raised on instant messaging and text messaging must come into play somewhere.

[...]


When I was 16, 16 year olds wrote this way all the time online. I don't see it as being common among 26 year olds now.
Vernacular language has been around for at least as long as written language. It has never (so far as I am aware) actually displaced the official language, at least over anything approaching a short timescale. I don't think that lack of instant communication or other technology-related issues have been the only factor here.

Txtspk is just another form of vernacular. Personally, I never use it, apart from a few acronyms and sloppy terms like "cya" which I picked up before I became such a hardened pedant. For those who do use it, however, if they end up in jobs where they need to use more formal language then obviously they will. If they never have that need, then they won't.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby H.E.L.e.N. » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:39 pm UTC

zenten wrote:I'm wondering if there's anything useful I can do with this information. If I get into a debate with someone in their twenties or thirties (40+ people usually know better than to try to debate on the internet, and those that do debate tend to be really good at it) things can get somewhere. We can see each other's perspectives, and one of us might legitimately convince the other of something.


22/7 wrote:I tend to judge someone to be young and inexperienced (and maybe unworthy of me reading their posts) for things like blatant errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. that indicate to me that the person on the other end can't formulate a decent idea and convey it in the language in which they've chosen to communicate.


I've seen 40+ year olds be complete morons online. Try, just for starters, message boards on local politics, hyper-neocon political blogs, and comments in publications aimed at people over 30 (like the websites for some newspapers). Forums like xkcd skew toward smart people; try some different parts of the internet, and you're going to get very different results (including 40-year-olds who can't spell for beans).

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby zenten » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:57 pm UTC

helen wrote:
I've seen 40+ year olds be complete morons online. Try, just for starters, message boards on local politics, hyper-neocon political blogs, and comments in publications aimed at people over 30 (like the websites for some newspapers). Forums like xkcd skew toward smart people; try some different parts of the internet, and you're going to get very different results (including 40-year-olds who can't spell for beans).


Among the board members at these places is there still this trend though, or is it pretty much the same?

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby 22/7 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:08 pm UTC

The places he's talking about will not have your average 13 year old, though, and so I don't think a correlation can be drawn. You're absolutely right that anyone can be an idiot in any setting, but from the interactions I've had online, this forum included, I find that it's usually best for me to write off someone who appears to be roughly 12 years old.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Don't want to be.
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Dan Frank » Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:18 am UTC

So basically, because people perceive that they've encountered a lot of teenagers who are stupid/inarticulate/etc... is it fair to start with the assumption that teenagers are consistently stupid/inarticulate/etc.?

I have to say, if I replaced teengers with any gender or race, everyone and their mother would violently reject the following assumption. But, it's basically socially acceptable to generalize and stereotype and descriminate based on age. So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that.

What gets me is that people in this post have even admitted that there are plenty of older folks who post like morons. And people have admitted some teenagers post coherently (and we've seen a couple demonstrate that, as well). So clearly we're talking about, at best, a generalization.

I just don't see much value in that. If you disagree with someone, okay. If you read/hear their first argument and it doesn't make any damned sense, say so. If that leads you to decide that person isn't worth talking to, alright. That's your prerogative. But I don't see where age needs to come into play here. How often do you know how old the person is before you read what they have to say? So either what they say has merit, or it doesn't. If it does have merit, then you're not going to attribute that to their age, are you? And if you take their argument seriously and then find out how old they are and retroactively remove your validation of their ideas, you're just being a jackass.

[anecdote]
When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time on the old mothering.com message boards. Even back then I was interesting in parenting theories and styles, and I didn't like most of what I saw (still don't). I engaged in a number of lively debates. Particularly one about restricting a teenager's access to the internet and chatrooms, because of some perceived danger. I argued that banning a teenage girl from the internet to protect her from a predator was absurd. But since I had a male screen name, a couple of women starting attacking me. They accused me of being an internet predator myself, a pedophile, a child molester, etc.

So I told them that actually, I was arguing the point because I myself was a teenager. Most of the responses fell into two categories.
1) Since I was a teenager, I obviously didn't understand the issues and I wasn't worth talking to anymore. Maybe I'd understand when I was a parent myself. Moments before, my points had been valid and worth arguing. Now, they were invalidated by my age.
2) I was lying. No teenager wrote like I did, I was probably a 40 year old pedophile. You can pretend to be ANYONE on the internet, which is proof that they were right to ban their teenagers from it.

It was intensely frustrating. Nothing good came of divulging my age. I should have just ignored the few psychos and kept arguing with everyone else.
[/anecdote]

I also have noticed a common trend of people who now, in hindsight, realize how dumb they were when they were teenagers. While some people, I'm sure, truly were stupid teenagers, many of them weren't. Our society has a lot of contempt for teenagers, and I've noticed that many people, as soon as they leave the target group, take glee in being able to spin around and finally be the ones writing people off as dumb kids, instead of being the ones getting written off. I think this is most common in those that have recently left their teen years (20-30). I've noticed people sometimes actually develop a selective memory about it, to the point that they genuinely believe they were stupid and inexperienced a few years ago, but now they've experienced 'real life' they know better.

It reminds me of hazing. When people finally get to be the one hazing others, they warp their own memories so that they look back fondly on what was actually a tortuous and humiliating experience.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby ascendingPig » Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:51 am UTC

I'm a teenager, and since the age of twelve I have enjoyed a certain status granted by the anonymity of the Internet.

Granted, when I was twelve I was a retard. I don't believe all teenagers are idiots (obviously), but it does seem to be a fairly consistent trend among preteens.

Nonetheless, while I am trying not to boast about my superiority over people who were likely literally mentally disabled, I was still more intelligent (or seemed more intelligent when arguing online) than many adults (or fellow preteens who claimed to be adults). Now I generally prefer to keep my age secret, and I have yet to be outed by chance or a guess by anyone, even someone I was arguing with. Even in real life I don't suffer under common opinions about teenagers because I look quite a bit older than I actually am. I also, er, tend to round up, so I'll give the age I'll be in a couple of months. But it's not a lie! It's just a very high value of 16!

The point is, people rarely guess my age based on my arguments or vernacular. And I ain't giving it away now.
"Many facts can fill an empty head."
-- Karl Kraus

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby theonemephisto » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:05 am UTC

I'm currently 16, but I have an interesting perspective on this.

About 1-2 years ago, I first really started posting on various forums and such. After a couple months or so, I started believing that I was somehow miraculously more intelligent and rational than my peers (I probably was to be truthful, but anyway) and that I should be taken seriously as a forum-goer and participant in discussions.

Of course, in the last year or so, I've grown a lot. An interesting thing that I've noticed, especially when I occasionally go back to look at some old threads and posts I may have made in them, is that I really was pretty crude, not necessarily immature but it's quite easy to tell that I would easily begin to ramble, saying the same thing over and over again, and that I didn't present arguments well. Now, I believe that I'm a much better debater and that I'm much more coherent in general, but looking back on that time makes me realize that my perspective on myself is very different than what it might really be.

So basically, yes, often times teenagers will have less coherent and supported arguments. This may not be for all of them, but chances are that they (we?) haven't matured long enough to really begin to understand things and to have an open mind, though it is continuing to grow (hopefully). I certainly know that I've been maturing and developing a different mind as my experience grows, and I doubt that most teenagers are more developed than me. There's simply an age that people start to get it, and if you're trying to have a discussion with them before that then things can be difficult. However, there are such things as mature, complex teenagers who really know what they're talking about, so judging by age still shouldn't be the norm. The best way to judge people on the internet is to judge their words.


And for the side conversation, please don't massacre grammar/spelling on the internet. My thing is that the only way I can judge people on the internet is by their words, and typing in massive abbreviations with tons of grammar and spelling mistakes makes the same impression as someone who never showers and who has never-washed clothes walking up to me. Just because you're a teenager doesn't mean that you have any viable reason to type like that, especially on a medium like forums. Doing that with friends, people who know you already, or in situations that speed and those few seconds are really necessary is okay, but when posting on a forum when you have practically unlimited time to formulate your response? No.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby 22/7 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:25 am UTC

Dan. Reread what I said and try this again. I *never* said I wouldn't take someone seriously because of their age. I said that, if someone writes very poorly, exhibiting poor grammar and spelling, rambling, failing to make a cohesive point, then I'll assume they are quite young and stop listening. So what's my criteria for *not* listening? The way they write. Not their age. You're assuming the correlation is causation, and it's not.
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Angelene » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:30 am UTC

22/7 wrote: You're assuming the correlation is causation, and it's not.


Oooooh. That was beautifully worded. Ah, but aren't you not really being relevant to the topic at hand then, though?

Meh. I'd like to say I'm not prone to ageism but when I see someone being incredibly small minded at a young age it makes me supremely sad, minds should always be open, but especially in youth when there are so many different ideologies and philosophies vying for one's attention...if I encounter a youth who's incredibly indoctrinated to the extent that they refuse to consider any other point of view, I tend to roll my eyes and chalk it up to lack of experience, when I encounter an adult with similar issues I tend to write them off as a lost cause.
"Some people need a red carpet rolled out in front of them in order to walk forward into friendship. They can't see the tiny outstretched hands all around them, everywhere, like leaves on trees."

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby 4=5 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:36 am UTC

the reason we can be ageist is because people get to grow out of being victimized.

and it's not hazeing as far as I can tell, I have never been disriminated against that I noticed based on my age, only on the srength of my argument.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Lamil_Lerran » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:46 am UTC

I suspect another reason that we see teenagers as less coherent is confirmation bias. The sort of teenager who writes posts like "zomg your just discrimnating against me cuz im 16" is much more likely to reveal their age than the teenager writing "I think our society has conditioned us to consider people under 18 as 'incomplete' in some respects." There aren't very many reasons to admit you're a teenager online, and as Dan Frank pointed out, there can be significant disadvantages; so the teenagers who know how to construct effective arguments are more likely to avoid revealing their age.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby ascendingPig » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:46 am UTC

I'm met people prejudiced against my age group plenty of times. It gets worse if I don't sound like an idiot, because then they tend to assume I'm some pretentious brat, when I'm honestly just trying to speak on an equal level with them.
"Many facts can fill an empty head."
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Brontide » Thu Nov 01, 2007 3:02 am UTC

People grow-up and change right throughout life, as our education and awareness of the world becomes greater with time... obviously younger people are going to be less educated on some topics and thus perhaps not have particularly well-supported arguments, and yes, some of the stuff I did as a teenager was downright stupid - but I still think that whether or not you take someone seriously should not be an age-based thing but an argument-based thing. I still remember a fight I had with my Mum when I was 16 about whether or not she could give me a lift to this guy's house. I asked her if she would be able to give me a ride over there as I didn't have a car or licence, and her response was "are you just going over there for a fuck? Because I'm not taking you over there if it's just for sex!". At the time, that made me incredibly annoyed - I was legally allowed to have sex and didn't feel she could stipulate conditions like that - she could agree to take me or she could choose not to, and I told her that in a calm voice. I wasn't sleeping with the guy anyway, I wasn't in the least attracted to him, but I felt this was besides the point. Her reaction was to continue to go completely nuts at me...

Yes in retrospect, I can understand her point of view - all of a sudden her youngest daughter is hanging around with a bunch of guys who left school quite young and really aren't the world's best influence. But she had given me a good education, taught me about safe sex, the risks with drugs etc... and at some point she has to allow me to make my own decisions. I think it's important that the feelings and opinions of a child at ANY age be fairly discussed, rather than just an "I'm your parent/older/have more authority - do what I say". Otherwise, how do we learn to treat others with similar respect?

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby la fée verte » Thu Nov 01, 2007 3:52 am UTC

Indon wrote:
tiny wrote:- Teenagers have hormone induced moodswings. They are constantly PMSing. Boths sexes.

And for face-to-face encounters with teenagers:
It sounds funny, but teenagers aren't able to identify fear on the faces of adults. Kids can do it, adults can do it, but teenagers simply can't.


If you happen to have a citation demonstrating these, I'd love to read it. More the second than the first, though.


I remember seeing a documentary on this (in the UK) and finding it fascinating, so I did a quick Google search and came up with this New Scientist article. Not exactly the most reliable scientific publication ever, and the article itself is pretty vague, but as I understand it, the theory goes something like: the brain changes in size during adolescence and also the neurons get re-sheathed in myelin (fatty stuff which helps them conduct the electrical signals).

I'm not a science student, can you tell? :?
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Dan Frank » Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:19 am UTC

22/7 wrote:Dan. Reread what I said and try this again. I *never* said I wouldn't take someone seriously because of their age. I said that, if someone writes very poorly, exhibiting poor grammar and spelling, rambling, failing to make a cohesive point, then I'll assume they are quite young and stop listening. So what's my criteria for *not* listening? The way they write. Not their age. You're assuming the correlation is causation, and it's not.


I specifically refrained from mentioning any poster by name because it wasn't any individual who made me post what I did, just the general trend of the thread. I wasn't trying to pick a fight with you, honest.

theonemephisto wrote:... Of course, in the last year or so, I've grown a lot. An interesting thing that I've noticed, especially when I occasionally go back to look at some old threads and posts I may have made in them, is that I really was pretty crude, not necessarily immature but it's quite easy to tell that I would easily begin to ramble, saying the same thing over and over again, and that I didn't present arguments well. Now, I believe that I'm a much better debater and that I'm much more coherent in general, but looking back on that time makes me realize that my perspective on myself is very different than what it might really be.


Do you honestly believe that it's only teenagers that do this? I haven't been a teen for quite a while, but I still do this. The only people who don't do this are people who aren't improving. And since nobody's perfect (or even close to it), there's no excuse for not improving. There are lots of nice examples of this, too... for instance, most authors hate reading their earlier work, because of how much they've improved since writing it.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby VannA » Thu Nov 01, 2007 5:20 am UTC

Robin S wrote:I am a teenager (though I just about miss falling into your "17 or under" category). I like to think that I make sense most of the time, except when I'm angry, when I tend to take a break from posting anyway.

Obviously, that doesn't mean that I'm never wrong, or that I don't have misconceptions about anything.


For what its worth, I had you pegged at closer to my own age. (27)

I remember what I was like as a teenager, and I was cockier, more impetous, and less tolerant.
Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy.

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby a_passing_lunatic » Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:06 am UTC

zenten wrote:
However, with adolescents it seems different. Sometimes I agree with what they're saying. When I don't, nothing really comes of it, because they aren't generally making a good rational argument, and they don't seem to listen to one either.



So that's why I always win!



Actually, for what it's worth, the only particularly effective way to make me angry is (supposing you're not my brother) to make me feel patronised.


So fuck you, I am always right.


(I've got a theory that one learns better this way, too)

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby __Kit » Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:27 am UTC

I don't know what I'll think of myself when I am older, probably shame. But yes with teenagers, people seem to either be extremely malleable, you can debate something and if you throw in a couple of big words and examples they'll believe you, or the complete opposite, that they are stubborn and have no intention to see something from someone else's view. There are exceptions. Personally, I just try to take everything at face value.
=]

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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Solt » Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:06 am UTC

The real question is, why the hell do we spend countless hours on the internet debating things with total strangers?

I have a feeling that answering that question will address some of the things we're talking about right now. But I can't figure out a good answer.
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produced a more reliable product. But sailors do
not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a
most annoying habit of splitting in two."
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Re: taking teenagers seriously

Postby Robin S » Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:56 am UTC

Brontide: right on the mark with your post.

VannA: thanks! I take that as a real compliment.

Solt: some answers to your question may be found here, though that thread is about discussion and arguments in general rather than being specific to the Internet.
This is a placeholder until I think of something more creative to put here.


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