Today’s teens face alot of pressures. As parents and friends we are trying to navigate social media, life, deal with pressures and some how gain an understanding of it all. Lauren M Galley is founder and president of Girls Above Society. Girls Above Society is a nonprofit organization, which aims to empower girls girls and inspire them to be confident, smart, and beautiful from within. Lauren travels around the nation and does girl talk camps that inspire girls and answer the tough questions. Here are some great go to quesitons we all would like answers to that Lauren just recently sat down and answered…..
1. What are the biggest pitfalls for today’s teens?
Today’s teen lives in a unique generation; there has never been one like it. The use of smart phones, laptops and iPads have opened a new world of knowledge and power for youth. Media and Television are shaping teens to believe that if they don’t look a certain way or have popular attributes that they are not good enough. Social Media has altered our face-to-face communication and self-worth is now measured on how many “likes”, followers or media views we collect. I have personally experienced this type of insecurity and have realized that without great mentors, confidence, and a positive hobby or passion, this insecurity can potentially result in depression, anxiety, or even suicide.
2. Social Media
a. What is the next trend for teens?
Teens seem to be gravitating away from applications such as Facebook and Twitter. Teens are dependent on instant gratification and texting is taking tweens and teens to the next level via Snapchat. Snapchat allows teens to send a photo with a message in one click, with the message disappearing within seconds. I use this application often, however it is not my main means of communication. While this popular app might be fun, many teens are taking it to the next level by sexting, even though the recipient can still take a permanent screen shot. This is a risk most teens never consider.
b. Where do you spend your time?
This might be a surprise to many, but I spend a great deal of my time writing and studying. If I’m not on a film set, speaking to a group of girls, or at school you might find me at one of my favorite places such as Starbucks or the lake. If I’ve had a long day and just want to relax, Netflix is my best friend! I believe it’s important to have an even balance between work and fun.
c. How much time do you spend daily on social media?
Due to my schedule, I plan my social media wisely. I have been fortunate to know some amazing mentors and made connections that have enabled me to travel and speak to girls that otherwise I would never have met. It is very easy to get caught up in social media but I try to spend my time on valuable postings instead of wasting time on too much “fluff.” I believe that social media should be a fun addition to our lives, rather than the main focus.
d. Do you take a break? Breaks are a must for me!! I encourage everyone to take a break. Too much of anything leads to burnout. During Fall and Spring semesters I ensure that my schedule includes plenty of downtime, and what I like to call “best friend time.” My summers are spent traveling and giving Girl Talks either at camps or speaking events. My best advice would be to make sure you are keeping in touch with your friends and family, regardless of how busy you are. I look forward to the summers and feel I can focus on empowering girls without the added stress of school.
3. Teen Romance a. Do you say, “Losing your virginity” or “Gaining a Sexual experience?” My generation would definitely use the term “Losing your virginity.” I believe having sex for the first time is such a big decision. Many girls in high school are having sex because they are afraid if they don’t, they won’t keep a boyfriend. This is another reason why I feel so strongly about girls being confident and knowing they are wonderful just the way they are. I know what it’s like to want to fit in, however it is more important to maintain your morals and values. During my high school years I knew girls who might not have otherwise made the choice to have sex, but they felt the act sealed a relationship and validated who they were. Things never ended well and certainly didn’t contribute to their self-worth.
b. What do you think about hooking up?
Hooking up is a terrible idea on so many levels. Reality TV shows such as those like Jersey Shore and The Bachelor teach youth that it’s cool to hook up. Parents are busy and social media use makes it super easy for tweens and teens to become sexual very early in a relationship. Oftentimes, we think everyone else is doing it, but they really aren’t. I think I should have lived back in the day when courting a girl was the way you started a relationship. Because they are immersed in media 24/7, youth today learn that if celebrities hook up then it must be ok. Relationships require work. The current generation wants what is easy and they have little understanding of how to date with respect and class. I also believe that self-worth is lacking in youth, therefore teens are reaching to peers instead of accomplishments for validation.
a. Do you see lots of binge drinking in college?
Binge drinking in college is typical. I see it more from those who have been sheltered when living at home. Students who have not been allowed to experience alcohol use prior to college (sheltered) usually end up binge drinking. They finally have the freedom and feel the need to drink more than they should. I believe that it’s important to always make sure you are in control of your actions. My parents taught me a great deal about the consequences of drinking, and safely understanding limits to drinking behavior. College life is about the choices you make. I encourage all students to be in control of themselves as well as those with whom they choose to associate.
b. What 5 things should parents know before their kid goes to college?
Make sure college is right for your teen. I know a degree is important when it comes to earning a living and having a career, but I feel like many parents put the pressure of attending a university on their child without regard to their goals in life. College isn’t for everyone and I’ve seen friends pushed into college only to fail and waste money that could have been used towards another avenue in helping their child succeed. I believe that the focus should be on having goals and accomplishing your dreams, not necessarily just receiving a diploma in something you are not passionate about. While parents are sad their child is leaving home, the child is excited and looking forward to a new adventure in life. Allow your child to make important choices and be there to guide them along the way. Teens need to feel a level of independence even though their parents are always there to catch them if they fall. I like feeling independent, however I still need my parents for help and support. Your child might not be as communicative as they were when they were in high school. Try not to be angry. I found myself so busy my first semester that I didn’t text several times a day or call as often as I used to, not because I didn’t care but because I was on a new adventure with so many activities going on around me. I get so stressed about my school work that sometimes I don’t talk to anyone. Once I settled in, I was calling and texting as if I was at home. Your child WILL make mistakes. It is part of the process of maturing into an adult. Don’t condone their mistakes, but don’t condemn your child when they disappoint you either. Support them. I’m thankful that my parents give me advice and support me, without making me feel like a failure when I make mistakes. Your child will change in ways that you never expected. Instead of pursuing that medical or law degree that was really your dream, they might decide that they want to be an artist or journalist. Encourage and support their life choices. It is, after all, their life and not yours. I believe that college is the time to find yourself, so a change in degree or career choice is perfectly normal.
5. High School a. Were you ever bullied?
I attended high school up until my junior year. Due to my filming schedule I opted out to attend a community college receiving dual credit. My middle school eighth grade year I was bullied to the point of not wanting to attend school ever again. I know this sounds dramatic but at the time my world had fallen apart because a girl who was jealous of me posted bulletins on MySpace for the world to see. I was so embarrassed and I started to believe the cruel things she said. This was my first “mean girl” experience and I can honestly say that this changed my life forever.
b. Did you have a curfew?
My parents adjusted my curfew to the activity I was doing. I was very involved with theater while in high school so if I was at an event with the theater kids a parent was usually there so my curfew could be later and usually resulted in my mom picking me up. When I got my drivers license my curfew was midnight no matter what. I recall that my friends were in similar situations. I was so excited to get my license, yet even then ended up more times than not being dropped off by my parents, lol.
c. What are 3 things our high school kids are doing that we don’t know about?
I’m not sure if “doing” is the right word. Today’s generation of teens are faced with a lot of feelings that might cause them to do things they might not want their parents to know about. Girls especially are feeling vulnerable and as they face the tough pressures to be “perfect” and they are not having these discussions with parents. I remember bottling things up because I didn’t want my parents to view me as a failure. Teens are looking to BFFs and the media as a “how-to” guide as a high school student. Teens don’t often discuss their deepest feelings with their parents, especially when it comes to boys and self-image issues. Girls are spending more time than parents might realize obsessing about fitting in, gaining a boyfriend, their size, and how many “likes” they are receiving on their social media status. All teens are different and the acts of skipping class and sneaking out are always going to be there for some, but I feel the internal pressures are huge for all girls today, and parents are many times the last person teens turn to for help and encouragement, mostly because our parents are supposed to say awesome things and tell us we are the best. I remember my mom telling me how amazing I was, but my peer’s opinion of me was more important during these years. Many teens who make the terrible, unfortunate choice of using drugs and alcohol leave parents asking themselves how and why. Usually an incident has to happen in order for parents to understand what is happening in their child’s life. Parents should make every effort to be in the moment with their teen and make communication an everyday event during middle school and high school years. I believe that open-ended questions are the key. My parents always had a very open line of communication during my school years and this made it so easy to discuss those important lessons teens need to be aware of.
d. Name one high school regret?
My biggest high school regret was the fact that I was still afraid to get out of my box. I worked hard at staying under the radar as I was not comfortable being the center of attention or the subject of general discussion… or for that matter the dreaded girl drama. I wish I would have opened up more and felt more comfortable talking about my acting, modeling or whatever it was that made me who I was at the time. I was scared I was going to say the wrong thing, so I said nothing at all. I spent a great deal of time listening and observing… I often wonder if that is a part of what sparked my creation of Girls Above Society.