How many times have you heard teen sigh and groan, ”I’m bored”? As the demographic with the most discretionary income and fewest responsibilities, we could argue that society has created a sort of monster in its invention of the “teenager.” Invention, you ask? Yes. The term “teenager” and idea of adolescents as their own category, somewhere between child and adult but with characteristics and a culture of their own, is actually fairly new.
The term and idea developed in the late 1800s, as a result of child labor laws. Before then, those in the 13-to-18 age bracket were often working hard to help support their families and even starting families of their own. Most of them didn’t have time to think about hanging out at the mall for hours on end, playing video games, or keeping up with a favorite music group — never mind, being bored. Once laws surfaced prohibiting teens from attaining gainful employment, compulsory education through high school would be soon to follow.
Of course, now there’s a growing phenomenon called “adultescence,” referring to those in the 18-to-29 age bracket who still live at home and live the carefree life, depending on Mom and Dad. Sure, many of these “kidults” can blame society’s value placed on higher education, but many are finding it hard to kick the addiction into their thirties. Bored adolescents aren’t becoming responsible, hard-working adults; rather, they’re “doing all sorts of things, but getting nowhere, just living from day to day in their own Never-Never Lands. They’re Peter Pans who shave.” Is that the future you want for your teenager? Parents of twins Alex and Brett Harris didn’t, so they did something about it.
Now, their twentysomething sons are well-known for fighting against the complacency experienced by many teens. This newly contrived concept of “quasi-child” our society has created has been defined by these two remarkable young men as “an unfortunate creature who had all the yearnings and capabilities of an adult, but none of the freedoms or responsibilities”. According to Alex Harris, “The only thing holding young people back in America today is the twine of this perpetual recess called adolescence and the twig of lowered social expectations.” The so-called “rebelution” they began with their blog and book has helped motivate many teens to “rebel against the low expectations of our society.”
The awesome thing is how the movement got started: Two homeschooled teen boys complained to their parents that the summer stretched before them as a yawning chasm of boredom. In response to their “I’m bored” mantra, their parents answered with a collection of books and resources that would lead them to write a book, merge blogs into one that would be featured in the New York Daily News, and lead in a grass roots political effort fueled solely by teens! Instead of entertaining them, the Harrises equipped their sons with brain food that would make a difference in their sons’ lives and many others.