Pre-Teen Maturity, Growing Up Too Fast or Too Slow?

Pre-teens and teenagers today are known as  Generation Z and Generation Alpha. As a part of Generation Z, it’s clear to see the community has a variety of people with different interests and levels of growth that may make others think of one question. Is this environment good for their maturity development? 


Many people believe that countless pre-teens and teenagers are losing touch with reality today because of excessive exposure to the outside world. Whether this exposure comes from their parents, social media, phones, etc, the debate on if these factors are negatively or positively impacting their maturity is still ongoing. 


Some teens in Generation Z believe that more exposure to society at an early age is a good thing, due to the fact that they are more aware of social, global, and societal issues and how to possibly aid to combat them. It’s common to open media such as Instagram and see stories filled with educational infographics regarding current issues or even creators on TikTok speaking on these issues, leading the viewer to make their next decision with a more educated approach. 


“Two years ago when I was twelve years old, I was on TikTok and learned about climate change,” freshman Jaqueline Katins said. “I think it’s a good thing [awareness]. I mean we’re the younger generation we can help.” 


Another common viewpoint heard from others in Gen Z, is that this exposure leaves them vulnerable to body and self image insecurities, which has detrimental effects on their mental well-being. Oftentimes those pushed at the forefront of social media, look or act in an unrealistic way that others look up to.


“Seeing a world of ‘perfectness,’ when that’s not how everything is in real life,” senior Megan Carrio said. “People compare and negatively think about themselves and I don’t want to feel that way.” 


Additionally, Spring Valley high school students feel pressured amongst their peers when it comes to what they wear because they have the fear that other kids may bully or judge them. Due to hundreds of new trends coming out every so often, many teens find themselves following what is popular to wear or act like someone they are not. All of this, in order to not feel singled out. 


“Everyone can judge you,” freshman Willian Arenas said. “You wear one wrong thing, and everyone will make fun of you for the rest of high school.” 


Teachers share an interesting perspective on teen maturity, as they often teach well over 200 students a year, meaning they are seeing these effects in the classroom. Teachers have voiced their opinions about whether teenagers are maturing too quickly, stating that the main reason is social media. 


“I think the advent of the internet and the internet being on cell phones, and students having instant access to the news has led to adolescence growing at a faster rate,” math teacher Ms. Fukuda said.


On the contrary, some teachers also believe that this unrestricted exposure delays teenagers’ development, which has a negative effect on their growth. 


“They are exposed to other information that I think is actually delaying their ability to mature,” AP World History and social studies teacher Mr. Nichols said. “I see it as a hindrance to them being able to mature appropriately the way that would naturally mature.”


There is no right or wrong perspective on whether teenagers are maturing too quickly. Pinpointing the cause will also be arguable as this is happening right before our eyes.. Whatever the case may be, however, it is the community’s job to support and protect teenagers, whether they are their friends, students, or even family members.