Parents, Teachers, and Teens: Check out the New York Times

We are always reading about the problems, the challenges, and the worst scenarios that get lived out in the lives of teens in the media. We frequently read about the depression, the anxiety, and the bipolar disorders that teens endure and the mess that’s created as a result. We read about all their troubles.


And in many cases, it’s important to read and understand the challenges of teens. It’s essential to know what mental illnesses are inflicting our youth, what behavioral disorders are showing up across the country, and whether adolescents are succeeding to the next life stage of adulthood. At the same time, giving emphasis to the positive and the beautiful stories feeds the teen spirit. It’s just as essential to see teens that are becoming early leaders, successful business people, and community advocates.


For instance, Anthony Vargas is like any other 16 year old. He goes to high school in uptown New York City. He is due to graduate in 2015 and he’s managing the life of being a teen in a widely diverse city. Like most teens, he struggles with the relationships with his peers, including the name-calling, bullying, and violence that he has had to endure at school. He’s particularly sensitive to the remarks that his friends made against his mother two years ago, in 2012. After too many experiences of name-calling and bullying, Vargas is now that he’s now fighting bullying and all forms of school violence by urging legislators to make a law requiring schools to have mentoring programs.


Although it’s rare to read about the passion, the successes, and the bravery that many adolescents demonstrate around the country, that’s what the New York Times did in April of this year. They selected ten articles about teens that exhibited their entrepreneurship and their courage. In fact, the New York Times publishes every month a series called, “Teenagers in the Times”. Each month has a different format, highlighting various aspects of a teen’s life or accomplishment.


In April, it was all about teen achievement. The Teens in the Times series featured 17-year-old Tavi Gevison and her online magazine called Rookie. She aims to send the message to teens that community and empowerment are essential tools for adolescents. Then there’s Katie Ledecky, also 17, who broke swimming world records for the 800- and 1500-meter freestyle races. And Chloe Grace Moretz makes her stage debut in “The Library”, a play showing in New York’s Public Theatre.


Plus, another fun feature of this series is that the Times has made it a tool for teaching. The series also offers a classroom lesson in addition to the articles provided. Parents who are home-schooling their children and high school teachers can use the series as a teaching aid about what’s going on around the world.


For instance, one assignment invites teens to find another teenager to admire in the Times, as well as a teen that they might inspire themselves. Another task might be for teens to write a letter to this person, commending him or her for their contribution or achievement. Teens might learn more about that person’s cause and try to find a way to pitch in. Lastly, another one of the assignments provided tries to get teens to learn about other parts of the world by engaging them in articles on world topics and digging deeper into research on those subjects.


If you’re a parent or teacher, this can be a very useful and handy tool to bring your teen into world events and introduce them to other teens making a difference in the world. And if you’re a teen, perhaps you want to dive into this series to see what other people your age are doing.


You can find the New York Times series here.  The next series will be published on July 11, 2014.