Remember that awkward stage you had at age 11 or 12 when you weren’t exactly a teenager yet, but you weren’t a child either? You weren’t old enough to be considered beautiful but you weren’t young enough to be considered cute. You wanted so badly to be cool like the high-schoolers, but you would never blend in with a group of them. I remember this time so vividly because it was a transitioning period from childhood into adolescence.
I still looked like a child, because I -more or less- still was one. Nowadays, as I scroll through my phone, I notice that many people of this age have seemingly skipped this step. At age 12, they could pass for a 16-year-old. After questioning this for a while, I thought to myself, “Why?” I think at the base of this global change in behavior is the upsurge in social media usage. In recent years, social media, especially TikTok, has taken a more significant role in our society. Influencers get paid to post, and trends are more easily (and quickly) spread. TikTok itself is depicted as an app meant for people ages 12 and up, meaning that preteens have more access to things that are “in” than in previous generations. Not only are they looking older, but they are also maturing faster.
Because we all use the same app, we share many of the same interests, styles, beliefs, and humor. There is no separation between young adults and prepubescent teens. This is actually a bit sad because people are unknowingly skipping an important transition period into young adulthood. After this realization, I guess my only question would be: “Will this continue to affect people of even younger ages?” As time goes on and social media grows even larger in popularity, will 10, 9, or even 8-year-olds begin to succumb to this as well? Soon enough, babies will pop out of the womb fully grown, wearing winged eyeliner, and childhood will cease to exist altogether.