SCIENCE: Teens these days are... really nice

You suck. Teens rule.

I know, I know. That’s impossible. But unfortunately we have maths to back it up.

And at the ripe old age of 24, let me assure you I find this as depressing as you do — especially for those of us badass rule-breaking millennials who hoped the generation coming up after us would be as wild and crazy as we are. (Note: This reporter is neither wild nor crazy.)

But here are the facts: Modern teens are behaving better, doing drugs less, having safer and choosier sex, and even wearing seat belts more often. Goodbye to your bad-decision-making millennial youth. Hello goody-two-shoes Generation Z.

Sarah Kliff over at Vox spotted the trend in a report the federal government releases every two years called the “Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System.”

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Teens are being more careful when they have sex. Hormonal birth control use jumped 15% among teens between 2011 (when the government started counting) and 2015. Condom use has declined a little bit though.
  • Fewer teens are having sex. In 1991, 54.1% of teens said they had ever had sex. In 2007, more than 47% said they’d ever had sex. In 2015, only 41.2% said the same.
  • They’re having sex less often. In 1991, 39.1% of teens said they’d had sex in the last three months. In 2013 that number fell to 34%. Then by 2015, teens nearly doubled the drop from the previous 12 years, bringing the percentage of teens who’d had sex in the past three months down to 30.1%. While we wouldn’t want to take a stand that teens exploring their sexuality is inherently bad, the world is probably better off for them being choosier about it.
  • Drug use is down across the board — with one major exception. Teens are drinking less, using less marijuana, consuming less ecstasy, and abusing less heroin. They’re even using less meth. The big honking exception here? Vaping.
  • 44.9% of teens said they’d used electronic cigarettes. There’s some data to tell us that e-cigs are probably better than cigarettes, but some teens eventually move on to the old-fashioned kind. And vaping still poses major health risks on its own. We don’t know how e-cigarette usage compares to previous years, because 2015 is the first time the government has asked.
  • Teens are generally better behaved. In 2015, 22.6% of teens said they’d been in fights. Back in 1991, that number was 42.5%. Bringing weapons into school (itself a worrying statistic to even exist) dropped from 11.8% to 4.1% in the same time period. Meanwhile, seat belt use has risen dramatically, all the way up to 93.9%.

These prim and proper teacher’s pet Gen-Z teens are making the rest of us look bad.

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