Of course, when I was a teenager we didn't have smart phones, in fact we didn't have mobile phones, we had rotary dial phones which could only move a few feet while in use, being restricted to the length of the cable connecting it to the wall.
We called our radio a 'wireless' and I have no clue why because it was also connected to the mains in order to work. But my research tells me it is because radios used to be in fact, wireless, because they ran from gigantic batteries, due to the fact that not everyone had electricity. The highlight of our week was to listen to Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, on the 'wireless' when I was a child, we didn't get television until I was into my teens, and then there was not much to watch.
But I am wandering from my point.
We didn't have personal computers, much less tablets. Our entertainment was not at all virtual, books with paper pages, pen or pencil and paper, jigsaw puzzels and board games, where pieces were frequently missing. No video games, YouTube or Facebook.
It was a different world with different holes to fall into if we took a wrong turning. Smoking and drinking underage was what the bad kids did, and into my later teens, that included weeds other than tobacco. I am sure other drugs were readily available. What I am not sure of is why I never indulged in anything more than tobacco (and how I wish I had avoided that too!). Alcohol held no mystery for me as my mother was French and so wine with dinner was perfectly normal, though the kids did get their wine watered down. As there was no mystery involved in drinking there was no reason to consider it wild and free. I was never one to go along with the herd, peer pressure had no effect on me and drugs frightened me, so I avoided them, even to the extent of leaving a party or gathering if I became aware that there were drugs involved.
I am not saying that I was a goodie two shoes, on the contrary, I was a rebel but apparently I had my own personal drummer and didn't need to be in step with the rest of the world.
I guess that teenagers are not nearly as grown up as they look, nor as grown up as they think. So, some of the things they do, frequently illegal and often resulting in considerable suffering and expense to the adults responsible for their actions are incredibly stupid. Rather than being young adults, they really are big children.
Today's teenagers still have smoking, drinking and drugs beckoning them to come ruin their lives and those of their parents. But they also have all the electronic crimes ready to trip them, such as illegally downloading pirated software and music. And those still mushy brains fondly believe they are smarter than the adults who developed those computers, tablets, smart phones and created the software. I suppose if they are also exposed to the criminal adults who indulge in the same infantile behaviour, it can be explained if not forgiven.
And sadly, those mushy brains have still not learned to value trust, and have no clue how hard it is to regain a trust that has been broken.
I wonder how many parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents have displayed extreme self control by not actually shaking their teenagers at least once a month. Perhaps it is all a necessary part of learning and growing.
My wish for the teenagers in my life, and those children who have yet to head through that awkward and frequently dangerous stage, is 'May your mistakes be small, may you learn from them quickly, and may you be smart enough to never repeat them, and may you march to your own drum and not that of someone else'.