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Aaron has three kids, age 14, 12, and almost 10. They're awesome, if I do say so myself. So he's not one of those people who thinks that kids are going to hell in a hand basket. If you read mass media, however, you'd think that kids were the worst we've ever seen. It's like everyone is that proverbial old man shaking his fist at the sky, shouting "get off my lawn!"

They're wrong. So wrong. And even though we've done episodes like this before, new data exist. So once again – why kids today are so awesome is the topic of this week's Healthcare Triage.


Those of you who want to read more can go here: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/?p=69991

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I have three kids, aged 14, 12, and almost 10.  They are awesome, if I do say so myself, so I'm not one of those people who thinks that kids are going to hell in a handbasket.  If you read, watch, or listen to mass media, however, you'd think that kids were the worst we've ever seen.  It's like everyone is that proverbial old man shaking his fist at the sky screaming, "GET OFF MY LAWN".  They're wrong.  So wrong!  And even though we've done episodes like this before, new data exists, so once again, why kids today are so awesome is the topic of this week's Healthcare Triage.  

(Intro)

This whole episode is gonna focus on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, which is given to more than 10,000 high school students every other year.  It's been going on since 1991, so we've got lots and lots of evidence that we can pore through.  In some ways, the YBRSS is like looking into a parent's worst nightmare.  It asks kids about all the things we hope they're not doing.  The data go back to 1972, which is ironically, the year I was born, so in some ways, we get to compare youth today to well, me and my friends.  

In the long ago, when I was a teenager, more than 27% of us smoked cigarettes.  Now, fewer than 16% of teens do.  That's a decline of more than 40%.  Granted, with respect to tobacco, the world looks a lot different today than it did back then.  Cigarettes have gotten a bad rap and deservedly so, but the good news is that all of you guys listened to what we were saying and responded to policy changes.

More than 81% of my compatriots had tried alcohol.  Teens today, about 66%.  Binge drinking is down too.  More than 31% of us drank five or more drinks in a row in the last month, versus less than 21% of teens today, and unlike with tobacco, there haven't been huge changes in policy there.  You guys just drink less.

We've got a lot of teens in the audience, so when I say 'you', that's who I'm talking to today.  You use a little more pot than we did.  About 40% of you versus a third of us, but you're using less than teens did in the late 90s and you're using less ecstasy, heroin, meth, and hallucinogens than teens in recent years, too.  About 37.5% of my compatriots had sex in the last three months.  Only 34% of you guys report the same, and this is with all the sexting and the Snapchat and all that other stuff.  People may complain that you're all more sexed up than teens were in my day, but that's only if you don't look at actual, you know, sex.  You guys are also more likely to use condoms when you do have sex.  Almost 60% of you used a condom the last time you did, versus like, 46% of us.  More than 10% of my cohort had sex before they were 13 years old, not that that includes me, versus less than 6% of you.  Birth rates down, too.  6.2% for me and my gang versus only 2.4% for you, 2.4%!  

Less than 3/4 of us regularly wore a seatbelt.  More than 92% of you do.  More than 96% of us never or rarely wore a bike helmet, and less than 88% of you say the same.  

People scream how kids these days are so lazy and how schools don't value physical education anymore, but almost the exact same percentage, just under half of us, had physical education classes pretty much every day of the week.  

We hear about bullying and violence and you'd think that schools have become home to physical threats behind every door, yet while 42% of kids my age have been in a physical fight, less than a quarter of you have.  

You guys are likely a little bit more overweight and obese than we were, although data really don't go back all the way to me for that.  

Here's the thing.  I'm not trying to argue that the world is perfect, 'cause surely it's not.  There are plenty of teens who need help or who could have their lives improved.  I'm not making light of any of their situations or arguing that they can't see things get better in some way, and look, I'm a health services researcher.  I spend most of my professional day trying to make the care of children in the United States better in some way.  There's tons of room for improvement, but every generation seems to think that they are the last bulwark against the return of the dark ages.  The kids today, mired in sex and drugs and their movies suck, and they have so much violence, and did you hear their music?  Do you know what they watch on YouTube?  They watch awesome stuff like this, of course, or any of the other amazing educational, meaningful content made in this building or studios like this one.  

Kids today are committed, thoughtful, and in no way somehow less than we were.  Anyone saying differently needs to stop or they need to come up with data that says otherwise, 'cause all the good stuff I can find seems to argue that kids today aren't just all right, they're better than we were.  Go tell your parents I said so.

Healthcare Triage is supported in part by viewers like you through patreon.com, a service that allows you to support the show through a monthly donation. Your support makes this show bigger and better. We'd especially like to thank our research associate Joe Sevits, and thank our surgeon admiral, Sam.  More information can be found at patreon.com/healthcaretriage.