The School Bell: Teens and Vaping
By: Natalie Ingalls, Falls Church High School
Teens and vaping. These two words have become intertwined as they make their way into headlines across the nation, inciting concern about the younger generation. As cases have emerged of teenagers falling ill, it’s easy to say that Generation Z is in trouble. The issue is not imaginary- the dangers of vaping are very real. But the idea that every teen is consumed in the vaping culture is not. Instead, it hurts those of us who actively make the choice to say “no.”
Teens have been and continue to be underestimated by the older generation. We’re told that we can make a difference, but are dismissed because we don’t know enough. When we make mistakes, we’re told we should know better. These generalizations hurt, and demean the large number of us who regularly make smart decisions. When it comes to vaping, people’s opinions are based on assumptions. While these assumptions are often valid, since some teens are ending up in hospitals, they are usually based only on the extreme cases.
The pressures teens face- from their parents, peers, and teachers- mixed with the constant barrage of new information makes it easy for them to question their intelligence. How are we supposed to make the right decisions when society is constantly changing around us? For many, it becomes easier to rebel than to try and fit the current mold. Yet, there are those who push through and are able to experience the rewards of their efforts.
Vaping is a paradox. It was intended to help- but it harms. Adults are unsure how to address this trend, and the solutions proposed completely ignore the perspectives of teenagers. However, is it any different from the counterculture movement of the 60s? What teens want is just a little bit of fun, as they always have. The more we assume about teenagers, the more they’re going to live up to our expectations. We should not be focused on changing teens, but instead understanding them. What we’re missing is honest conversations between the generations. Because at the heart of it all, teenagers are people too, and like everyone else we just want to be understood.
Falls Church High School
7521 Jaguar Trail
Falls Church, VA 22044
(Students who reside on the north side of Annandale attend Falls Church High School)