As baby New Year replaces the old man 2008, teens find themselves facing more pressures than ever before. The advent of new technologies, the pitfalls of social networking sites, and an economy that has many parents taking extra jobs just to make ends meet may leave teens more on their own than ever before.
But there are ways for teens to beat the tough times, with just a little effort.
*Read More -- Read, read, read. Read newspapers, books and magazines. Read more than you did last year. Pick a genre that you like and buy five novels -- don't ignore classics and plays or things on your schools reading list. If you liked The Matrix, you'd love George Orwell's 1984, one of the inspirations for The Matrix.
*Get involved -- According to the pollsters, the youth vote tipped the scales in favor of Barack Obama in the last election. Young people, when united, were strong enough to change the course of one of the most powerful nations on the planet. Imagine how much good we could do if we all volunteered our time to a worthy cause at least once a week.
*Do something outdoors -- Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, teens today are spending way too much time shackled to their computers, lounging with their iPods or texting on their phones. When weather permits, get outside for at least a few minutes every day. Walk down to the corner store. Ride a bike. Join a gym. Do something so that you don't form bad habits that hurt your health later on in life.
*Talk to your parents -- Yes, actually talk to them. Many problems that arise between parents and teens revolve around lack of communication. With time for daily communication at a premium, now more than ever it's important to make the most of that time. The more you talk to them about your day, your activities, your social life and yes, even your boyfriend/girlfriend, the more they will feel involved in your life. They will trust you more, and you will benefit from their wisdom, even when you least expect it.
*Stay informed -- A whopping 67 percent of high school students couldn't identify our vice president, speaker of the House of Representatives or Senate Majority Leader. More than 30 percent didn't know we were at war with Iraq. There is no excuse for being ill-informed about the world around you. Know who your leaders are. Know what's going on in your town, your state, your country and your world. The only way to be a part of it is to know what's going on.
Come on, teens. You're our future. Tune in. Please.