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October 5, 2017

Your annual update on Teens: The Porta Potty Challenge

Teens. There’s not too much to know about them, but scientists and researchers continue to poke and prod at them every chance they get. The conundrum here, is that the more we study them the less we seem to understand. They’re like a flock of gangly, migratory birds armed with smartphones. Except instead of flying south for the winter, we’re not quite sure where they go, but we try our best to keep an eye on them.

“I saw some teens down by the library today. I wonder what they’re doing there.”

Well, thanks to a handful of new studies that came out recently, we know a little more about what teens these days are up to. Here are three bullet points.

  1. Teens are not having sex. The Center for Disease Control published their research on a 2011-2015 study on teens last Thursday. According to them, back in 1988, 51% of females between the ages of 15-18 were having sex, and 60% of males. Compare that to 2015, where just 42% of females and 44% of males claimed to be doin’ it. This has resulted in things like a lower teen pregnancy rate, as well as a dip in STIs.
  2. Teens are not smoking pot. According to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that came out last year, only 6.5% of teens aged 12-17 are smoking jazz cigarettes compared to 8.2% of teens in 2002. And if movies like Dazed and Confused are any indicator, it’s down from about 99% in 1976.
  3. Teens are not getting drunk. In a study published by The Society for Research in Child Development, on average the number of teens 8th grade and older who are hittin’ the sauce fell by an average of 20% since 1993.

The researchers proposed a number of different ideas as to why teens aren’t participating in historically “cool” activities. More time spent on smartphones and the internet are high on the list–some researchers found corresponding data between areas with high speed internet access and a decrease in STI transmission (the idea being that teens are a curious bunch, and spend a lot of time researching sex on the internet [ha!], and subsequently get grossed out by what could potentially happen if you do have sex). Others suggest that public education and outreach on the subject of safe sex have finally proven to be effective.

With this in mind I’d like to direct your attention to the following:

The #PortaPottyChallenge is a new thing that teens are doing at their local cross country meets. Though I haven’t seen any definitive rules or guidelines on proper #PPC etiquette, it seems pretty simple: cram as many kids into a portable shit-house as possible, and then record as they escape clown car style.

Every kid in the above videos is having an absolute gas. This, despite the fact that 90% of people I know will avoid one of those things at all cost, let alone share it with 40 other strangers. I can only imagine some poor 13-year old, resting precariously over the toilet seat, making one wrong move and driving his spindly little leg into the fetid blue water of the holding tank, splashing all of his cohorts. Also, I’m pretty sure this is a great way to contract ringworm.

So here we are. It’s 2017. We can order pizza via text message and have more computing power in our pocket than Neil and the boys did getting to the moon. Teens aren’t having sex, nor are they doing drugs (which is great. No one should be doing drugs or having sex until they’re 25). They aren’t getting pregnant nor getting STIs (also great). Instead they’re Snapchatting each other, spending time whizzing around the web with their high speed internet connections, and now, apparently, seeing how many people they can squeeze into a toilet.

But before you lament about your lost youth, or about kids today, or talk about what you would be doing differently if you were a teen again, I’d like to point you to this 1959 Life article. Almost 60 years ago, Life speculated that the fad of “phone boothing” had finally surpassed “panty raiding” in popularity. We have come full circle.






Editor’s note: Look at how the Brits are looking at us.

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