We are living in a world where every girl wants to be a diva and every boy desires to be called a dude. Where naughty nine is the new sweet sixteen. A world where social acceptance is measured by your friends’ list on a social networking site and your coolness by how many new gadgets you have in your wardrobe. An age where girls have moved from adorning their dolls to adorning themselves and a time when old gossips of Gudiya ki shaadi have evolved into real-time tweety flicks of Who’s dating whom. Welcome to the new world of pre-teens.
By Aakash Mehrotra
We are living in a world where every girl wants to be a diva and every boy desires to be called a dude. Where naughty nine is the new sweet sixteen. Where malls have replaced the street-grounds of the past and childish pranks are substituted with emotional hiccups. A world where social acceptance is measured by your friends’ list on a social networking site and your coolness by how many new gadgets you have in your wardrobe. An age where girls have moved from adorning their dolls to adorning themselves and a time when old gossips of Gudiya ki shaadi have evolved into real-time tweety flicks of Who’s dating whom. Welcome to the new world of pre-teens.
Children are hitting puberty earlier than ever. Blame the exposure provided by the media or the changing social trends; but the troubling fact is that counselors are seeing an accelerated rise in the number of unsettled parents taking advice about their girls, who have attained puberty earlier or the pre-teens disturbed by emotional break-ups.
This social and emotional development is fast challenging the accepted and unaccepted notions of parenting.
While pre-teen girls are paying more attention to body image and are shelling out more money for cosmetics, boys are busy exploring the unexplored strata of wilderness camps and explicit magazines. There are speed bumps ahead, the upper middle class or the newly rich have been the real laboratory of this social experiment. Getting into deep love is just so lame these days; in fact, love is a variable to measure one’s social acceptance and adaptability.
Children are becoming aware of sexuality before their age. Girls giggle over crush stories and a good amount of time is spent planning for dates. The nights are spent celebrating sleepovers — or the long, never ending discussions on boys or imitating the new-age fashion looks from magazines. And boys have their own favorites. They want to be updated on the new gadgets or the best hotspots to hang out with friends to check out girls.
And they have their own subjects of rivalry, ranging from issues like “who’s hanging out more with the cutest girl in the class” or “who’ll be the first one to get the mobile number of that senior” or “who can hold a cigarette in a trendier manner.” The issues have diversified from cricket to going out with big bad guys, from experimenting with new games to experimenting with smoke circles, and the mysteries of science excite them less than the physical and sensual mysteries. The more the uncouth words one speaks, the cooler one is.
There is cut-throat competition to be the bond of the college. Masking oneself has become a need, from being a smooth, sober talker with a germane smile among girls to the slimy, abusive and rambunctious attitude bearing kid among boys; this generation is not only covering long distances in smaller steps but is also walking the extra mile. From candidly opening up the worst side of oneself to ingeniously delivering one’s positives, the Gen Y knows it all.
Well, there are ego problems. From getting love-smitten to sexually obsess; Gen Y is traversing the length and breadth of the once unknown corners of life. There are break-ups and crushes, back-stabbing, dumping and infidelity — in a world where everything is within easy reach, and having an intimate physical bond is easier than structured emotional bonding. That’s why in case of a break-up, everyone has a back-up.
Never had we imagined of days, when parents would be complaining of their class III — IV children surfing pornographic sites or a 14-year-old sending nude pictures to her boyfriend. Everything is happening so fast that it seems impossible to find an answer.
Counselors are frequently heard telling children not to fidget with their private parts and teachers seen guarding the isolated corners of the school to see if any student is exhibiting uncalled-for behavior. This is pop psychology for; every person is a carnal being and wants to experiment with one’s sexuality. But what should be the right age or time? This neither “you” nor “I” can determine. Gen Y has its own issues; inattention from parents or the protective attitude or negligence on the part of teachers. Young minds are both vulnerable and volatile; the moment they are treated with whips like the beasts of a circus, they retreat into their shells.
We may call this sort of behavior an “immoral extremism,” but the fact of the matter is that Gen Y too seems to be bewildered and befuddled at times. Educate them before they learn from a wrong source. Develop that trust so that they can vent out their hearts. It is not just we who are losing, but they too — for, in this dearth would be buried their moments of prankishness, the treasured hunts of ecstasy and the mute songs of innocence.
With the parents confused and wearing a stale look of “how to handle this” and the schools ill-equipped and ill-versed to peep through the young minds, this situation seems to stay. And with the advent of sex education, still struggling to breathe in the political corridors, the revulsion becomes palpable. Parents and society at large need to understand this and get equipped to deal with these changing emotional settings; “Wonder years” become the “Wander years.”