• Bring back the 80s? Were our younger days really better than our kids’?
  • Bring back the 80s? Were our younger days really better than our kids’?

Bring back the 80s? Were our younger days really better than our kids’?

With our kids in exam mode we can see that they work much harder at school these days just to keep up. Today we have a guest post from my friends at MyTutorWeb comparing our time at school with theirs. Anyone who has been through the ordeal of trying to find a good tutor (myself included) will know just how difficult and expensive it can be. The team at MyTutorWeb have personally interviewed hundreds of top university students to provide you access to high quality tutoring at £15-18 per hour. You can find out more from their coverage in the Telegraph and Independent– And if you book, stick in the word BeTeenUs for a discount – Vicki]

Ah the 80s: the decade of legwarmers, neon and Rubik’s cubes. Who can believe that it’s almost 35 years ago since Cabbage Patch Kids dominated the toy industry, or since Survivor ruled the charts? Whilst teenagers nowadays are more likely to be caught listening to Rihanna on their iPhone than Olivia Newton-John on their Walkman, Best Education Degrees have revealed some surprising statistics which suggest that the progression from Candy Chiclets to Candy Crush may not be all that it seems…

Drugs and sex
For example, teenagers nowadays are often scrutinized by the media for their bad behaviour, but in fact both marijuana and cigarette use have dropped from 30% in the 80s to 20% in 2012. Modern-day teenagers are also 30% more likely to practice safe sex – in 1980, only 55% of teenagers used contraception the first time, whereas nowadays, 81.5% do. Perhaps these figures reflect the improvements in Personal Social Health Education, heightened anti-smoking campaigns, or better access to contraception – or perhaps the decline 71SzRAzLOWL__SL1500_in spandex.

Interestingly, the graduation rate has remained fairly consistent – 77.5% in the 80s and 72% in 2012 – but the number of people going onto further education has increased by over 20%. 35 years ago, 35.4% of 18 year olds went onto full-time work, compared with only 18.7% today. Best Education Degrees also suggest that career aspirations have changed too, with more and more graduates going into education, social sciences and health, as opposed to engineering, biological sciences and agriculture – a theory that definitely supports the growing demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students.

Less elite now?
Diversity is another significant point of change, particularly in the US. In the 1980s, 79.9% of students were white, 11.6% were black, 6.3% were Hispanic and 1.3% were Asian. Nowadays, 54.9% of students are white, 17% are black, 21.5% are Hispanic, 5% are Asian and 1.2% are Native American. Running parallel to this is the number of students enrolled in foreign language courses – the number of pupils studying French or German have both dropped by 1%, but the number of pupils taking Spanish has almost doubled, from 18 to 30%. Given that 45 million people now speak Spanish as a first or second language in the US, compared to only 11 million in 1980; it is unsurprising that it now takes up such a significant part of the American curriculum.

Yet have routines changed that much? In the ‘80s, kids would eat their lunch (Fruit Roll Ups, Wonder Bread and Kraft Handi-Snacks – should cheese ever be that orange??); play on my_little_pony___mi_pony_inventada___belle_artist_by_mauridiaztfm-d6jyji5their Coleco Vision and watch an episode of The Young Ones or listen to Cyndi Lauper. Nowadays, kids eat their lunch (Cheese Strings, Frubes and Sunmaid Raisins); play on their Xbox and talk about Harry Potter or Twilight whilst listening to One Direction. Whilst this doesn’t seem like too dramatic a change, the content of the games they are playing is what is probably most startling. The games of the 80s were happier, simpler times, where two badly drawn moustached-men had to run away from dangerous mushrooms (hello, Super Mario Bros); a stark contrast to the pseudo-masochistic impulses of GTA and COD nowadays.

Keeping it screenKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
There are many other reasons why being a teenager in the 80s may have been cooler, despite the shoulder pads, big hair, and addiction to Top of the Pops. They didn’t have to worry about the pressures of the internet and social media; they could roam free without having to text their parents every 20 minutes to say that they’re safe; youth unemployment was lower and kids could play outside more freely. Nowadays the abundance of electronic devices means that most teenagers spend the majority of their time with preoccupied hands and distracted minds, but in the 80s the most screen time you got was a small obsession with Frogger on an Atari. In many ways life was smaller, simpler, safer – so was it better?

Written by Kristina Murkett, a MyTutorWeb Tutor

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