The days of teen angst are fading, according to recent Barna research. Teens today have adopted a whole new set of positive perspectives, departing from the negative views teens held as recently as five years ago.
GenerationX complained about abandonment, the hopelessness of life, the limited value of education and the hypocrisy of society, the Barna study noted. Today’s teenagers “are more likely to state that they are satisfied with their life, look forward to a challenging future, feel intelligent and attractive, and can optimistically face tomorrow because they trust most other people.”
The study reported that this turnabout in self-esteem has birthed a growing desire to excel in school and experience a variety of adventures throughout life.
Four out of five teens still think adults view youth in a negative light, but that hasn’t gotten them down.
However, this newfound confidence among teens isn’t necessarily pointing them toward the Christian faith, according to Barna.
The research pointed out that although teens are among the most spiritually-interested individuals in the nation, their curiosity about faith matters has not resulted in a boom in Christian conversions.
“In fact, while more than three out of five teenagers say they are spiritual, spiritual goals and life outcomes are not among the top-rated goals they have established for their future,” the Barna study reported.
In 2001, despite growing curiosity about spiritual matters, only 33 percent of teens claimed to be born again. That is only 2 percent higher than the figure for 1990.
The percentage of teens who are evangelicals—”those who are not only born again but also believe in the accuracy of the Bible, personal responsibility to evangelize, believe in salvation by grace alone, and possess orthodox biblical views on God, Jesus and Satan”—has declined from 10 percent in 1995 to only 4 percent today.
The Barna study attributed these numbers to the growing number of teens who accept moral relativism and pluralistic theology.
Barna has released a book about these changing attitudes among teens. Real Teens: A Contemporary Snapshot of Youth Culture points out that once teens reach the age of independence they tend to leave Christian churches.
“Teens do not go to youth groups for music and games, and they will not attend ‘adult church’ for music and preaching,” according to the book.
“They demand transcendent adventures and supportive relationships. They need an outlet for their desire to have a positive affect on the world and to synchronize their inner drive to be needed with the needs of those in the world that have little.”