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Year in Review 2020: Our top Kids These Days podcast episodes

Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio
Credit Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

This year, Michigan Radio and Community High School in Ann Arbor launched Kids These Days -- a podcast hosted by teens, about teens. The goal was to get an unfiltered look into teenage life and to find out what teens are thinking about, laughing about, and stressing about.

As we wrap up the year, let’s take a look back at the top five episodes:

The stress of coming out and the meaning of virginity

So many teens stress about coming out - when to do it, how to do it, who to tell, who not to tell. In episode four of KTD we looked at sex and identity, and explored why coming out is still a thing.

“Because being straight is the default, straight people don’t have to come out. But, taking the time to come to terms with your identity, and expressing that to the world, can also be a beautiful thing,” said high school junior, Geneve Thomas-Palmer.

What's it like living with anxiety?

Kids these days are stressed. Really. They’re a lot more stressed than generations before them. Millions of teens have an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Anxiety for me often shows up in places where I lack control. It usually flares up most around school and social activities,” said Community High School sophomore, Mira. “It feels like you want to crawl out of your own skin or like that stomach dropping feeling you get on a rollercoaster, but all the time.”

How has fear shaped our lives?

Gen Z is growing up in a world changed forever before they were even born by events like September 11 and Columbine.

In this episode of KTD, we explored how growing up in a sort of "age of fear" has shaped their lives.

“Every student is familiar with that lump that forms in your throat when you hear the P.A. buzz. We’ve become accustomed to the procedures that must be followed during an active shooter drill. We turn off our phones, stay silent, and get out of the view of any windows,” said Community High School senior, Anja Jacobson.

What conversations are you having with your family about race?

Weeks after police killed George Floyd, were still out on the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Some people may have wondered: why? What was motivating teens to step out, to speak up, and to demand change?

To try and answer that, we moved out of the streets and into the home to see what kinds of conversations were taking place.

“We’ve been having these talks my entire life. About how to be a person of color in America,” she says. “In sixth grade it was about the police. In eighth grade it was about how to react when someone stereotypes you. In tenth grade it was about coping with ignorant relatives. In eleventh grade it was about the N word,” said Community High School student, Leah Dewey.

Why is being a teen so complicated?

Part of being a teen is realizing that things are not as simple as they seem. That there’s a darker side to the world that maybe you’re just seeing for the first time.

We can’t talk about what it’s like to be a teen today without talking about social media.

“I definitely find myself like comparing myself to everyone else I see on social media. And anytime I post a picture on Instagram, I'm constantly checking how many likes I’m getting, how many comments I'm getting, am I getting enough likes and comments compared to my friends?” said high school graduate, Angelina.

Want to support reporting like this? Consider making a gift to Michigan Radio today.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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