New year, a new decade, and lots of new teen culture to catch up on. With 2019 behind us, I’m looking into 2020 with lots of hope for what this generation will do in the coming decade. Before looking ahead though, let’s reflect on some of the final moments of the last year.
First of all, while likely not the primary interest of your teens, it’s important to address the fact that the President of the United States was impeached by the House of Representatives in December. Again, while this most likely wasn’t a huge deal to your teens, it’s something they’re aware of and they’re likely hearing reactions to this news, and it goes without saying that this is setting the stage for quite the election year in 2020.
Given the fact that they can’t vote, many teens’ political opinions tend to still reflect things their parents have instilled in them. However, in an ever-increasing landscape of digital communication, the schools of thought, ideologies, agendas, and propaganda that your teens may be exposed to, it’s worth initiating conversations with them about political issues, and challenging them to consider how Gospel realities are lived out in a political society. That said, the general response of teens, when asked about the political climate in our world, can tend toward hopelessness. As noted in last month’s culture update, they often make their way through conflict, personal and global, by doing their best to couch it in sarcasm and humor.
TV, Movies, and Music
The end of the year was also marked by some key releases of TV, movies, and music. With Disney+ on the scene, teens with an appreciation for all things Star Wars are tuning into “The Mandalorian,” and, by the time you’re reading this, have likely seen “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
If your teens use Spotify to listen to music, they probably got a 2019 wrap up, which is a playlist of their most-listened-to songs. If you want to get a little insight into who and what they’ve been listening to, ask them if they’ll share the playlist with you and give it a listen. You might actually find some music you like!
Finally, the 2020 Grammy nominations were announced and, while your teens might not be deeply invested in awards shows, some of their favorites have been nominated and will likely be making big moves in the next year.
This list includes 17-year-old Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Post Malone, Lil Nas X, Khalid, and Ariana Grande – all people I’d consider mouthpieces for Gen Z, many of whom have been (or will be) featured right here on this blog! If you have some time to poke around some of those artists’ music, give it a listen and see what you think. Remember, this music wasn’t created with you in mind, so if it’s a bit jarring or uncomfortable, that’s OK. But if it prompts an open-minded conversation with your teens about what they’re listening to and how it does or does not draw them into an experience with beauty and a reflection on the Lord, it could be worth it!
2019 sure was a wild year for so many reasons. Teen culture is an ever-changing beast and 2020 will surely bring a whole host of new things with it. But at the end of the day, teenagers are still loved infinitely by the Father and called into an eternal union with Him. You don’t need to live in teen culture to be able to share that truth with them… but a healthy awareness of it doesn’t hurt!