‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’: The Class of 2025 acting up, or acting ordinary

This year, freshmen seem to be much more provocative and out of control. Complaints from students from the freshmen themselves to seniors flood discussion of school climate. Students and teachers alike talk about the rumors and truths of freshmen misbehaving.  To be fair, this could just be one aspect of returning to school is not being acclimated to dealing with other students on campus, especially ones that we may find annoying.

One thing that must be considered is that this year’s freshman class’s last “normal” experience of school was the 7th grade. Many of them missed the essential social experiences many upperclassmen had the luxury of experiencing; this means that their middle school experience, friendships, and other major life events were prevented from really taking place. Another often used explanation of the behavior for the freshman class is the fact that teenagers are progressively more connected online. It is often believed that children who are hyper-connected to the internet have issues socializing.

In comparison, a Pew Research study from November of 2018 found that teens that use social media and the internet often are just as likely to communicate with fellow teenagers in real life. One of the issues with this study is that, with the teenagers that were research subjects, they still had access to in person social interaction. The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic presented a significant issue. In person interaction was almost entirely unavailable to young people making online communication the only form of consistent communication for over a year.

A 2011 study by Lee et. al found that the satisfaction and mental stimulation of many in person interactions is not equivalent to what can be found in online interactions when online communication is not supplemented by in person interactions. Despite this, many still bring up the argument that all teenagers had to undergo those conditions, since schools across the nation shut down due to pandemic restrictions. While this may seem like it puts the blame back on to the freshmen directly, it has to be considered that the class of 2025 left school in the seventh grade, and only returned to some kind of normal educational environment in high school. They were taken from online classes and hybrid schedules, and many from much smaller schools, to a school of nearly a thousand, with a new map to learn, a schedule to memorize, and many, many people to meet.

While there is nowhere to fully prove that this freshmen class behaves significantly worse than previous years, there seems to be a general consensus that, this year, they are far more rambunctious than in years past. Despite this, we can have some pity for many of them, as essential years of social learning and development were ripped away from them, and it was really out of their control. So, when you see freshmen roughhousing in the halls, awkwardly cuddling at lunch, or just getting on your nerves overall, it is perfectly fine to be annoyed. But remember how those couple years between middle school and high school shaped you, and have some sympathy, instead of just contempt.