What Does a Timeless Portrait of a 16 Year Old Look Like?
The current generation receives a lot of backlash for being too tech involved while the generations of the past are stuck in the stone age. In a time where the age groups clash daily, what does a timeless portrait of a sixteen year old look like?
|Paul Jensen, age 63|
Paul Jensen, age 63, is an esteemed photographer and the director of the Iowa Summer Journalism Workshop 2016. Paul told me that during his teenage years he liked to hang out with and talk on the phone with his friends as well as take photos. He was also a techie for his school's drama productions. Paul is a self proclaimed nerd who found his passion for photography at a young age. He smiles when he tells me that he listened to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as a teenager. His demeanor changes slightly when I ask him about the younger generation. He told me that the younger generation spends a lot of time on their phones, never actually conversing with each other. "I don't think people are so much different," he told me in response to my question about the current generation being different from past generations. "They have different opportunities," he continued. "Nowadays, you can take your friends on vacation with you where when I was a teenager, you would tell them about your vacation after you got back." There you have it, teenagers are not so much different from past generations but have different opportunities.
|Jennifer Cooper, age 44|
Jennifer Cooper, age 44, is the mother of a fourteen year old. As a teenager, she spent her days in a small town where she entertained herself by cruising downtown with her friends and going to the movies. Jennifer also had a lot of school spirit in high school and attended many football and basketball games in her free time. Jennifer described her sixteen year old style to me as well. "Leggings, big shoulder pads, eyeliner and a lot of eye shadow... I had really big hair, a perm. I can't remember if neon was out yet or not but we wore primary colors. Like a royal blue, red, yellow, and a lot of black." Jennifer also listened to a lot of music as a teenager. Her playlists were filled with new wave artists such as Duran Duran and Depeche Mode with a nice helping of heavy metal bands such as Guns N Roses and Metallica. She also had a love for Jon Bon Jovi. When I asked Jennifer about what her daughter liked to do in her spare time, she answered similarly to Paul. According to Jennifer, teens spend a lot of time on their phone messaging their friends on snapchat and watching videos on YouTube. I asked Jennifer if she thought that the current generation was similar or different from her generation. "I think they're really similar but I think they get the things they are in to in a different way," she answered. As previously stated, Jennifer proclaimed her love for Duran Duran. Jennifer's daughter loves the YouTube duo Dan and Phil who, like Duran Duran, are English. Jennifer found her English celebrities via the radio while her daughter came across them on YouTube.
|Madeline Smith, age 20|
On my quest to define a sixteen year old teenager, a counselor at ISJW smiled and waved me down. She eagerly agreed to be interviewed for such an important cause. The photo to the left is of the woman herself, Madeline Smith. Madeline is twenty years old and is a student at the University of Iowa. Madeline just finished her teenage years and has a different perspective than the other people I interviewed. As a teenager, Madeline liked to drive around nice neighborhoods with her friends and look at the nice houses. She also enjoyed MySpace and wishes it was still around on the internet. Madeline liked to hang out at the mall with her friends to shop or go to a coffee shop to play board games. She liked to follow the trends and loved skinny jeans and low top converse and wore an unhealthy amount of bracelets. Madeline also told me that she didn't understand the younger generation. "No one seems to want to make authentic relationships," she said while she made frustrated motions with her hands. When I asked her if she thought that the younger generation was completely different from her generation she answered instantly with a Yes! They're completely different! Madeline blames the problem on social media just like everyone I've interviewed before her.
|Emily Wangen, age 17|
I decided to go to the roots and interviewed a teenager. This is Emily Wangen, a camper at the journalism camp. Emily loves music and spends her time playing instruments, taking photos, writing, and playing Pokemon Go! Just like Madeline, she likes to hang out at a coffee shop with her friends. She also likes to spend time at the local lake to take photos or just hang out with friends. Emily tells me that she thinks that her generation is completely different from past generations. "I think teenagers today are more connected and you can connect with teens around the world and share that human experience,".
So what does a timeless portrait of a sixteen year old look like? Based on my data, a sixteen year old is a young, stylish person who enjoys to be with their friends surrounded by good music and a relaxing environment. Teens are people who like to have fun, obsess over celebrities, and take photos to document their ever crazy life. A sixteen year old attacks their dreams with passion and ferocity. Teens do not limit themselves and see the world as an open, spacious place of opportunity. Though the teens of the current generation seem to be attached to their screens, their screen time is not for nothing. Teens accomplish a lot on the internet while also enjoying themselves. This blog is proof of that.