Longtime Teachers Are Sharing How Kids Have Changed Over The Years (20 Posts)

We’ve lived through some pretty unprecedented times; from the onset of the internet straight through to COVID, change has come to the world at a rapid click. It’s only natural that students, children, are going to also be pretty different than they were even just five years ago.


u/ProfPacific recently wondered:

“Teachers, what changes have you noticed over time in the kids you teach?”

And we rounded up some of the top answers.

1. Misdiagnoses

I’m a school counselor at a middle school. Over the last 5 or so years I’ve noticed that kids know way too much about mental health and incorrectly apply it to themselves. So many of them are diagnosing themselves with anxiety and/or depression when what they might be feeling is within the “normal” realm. Don’t get me wrong – I am seeing an increase in anxiety / depression – but kids are diagnosing themselves all the time including disorders like bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc. It’s almost like it’s now “cool” to have anxiety, depression or to cut. I’ve also seen kids use the words “gaslight” and “abuse” VERY lightly and it’s starting to lose the meaning of the word.


2. Pessimism

I teach middle school in Europe and aside from the reduced attention span thing being very evident, the other thing I’ve noticed is that kids are a lot more pessimistic these days: there is so much access to what’s going on in the world (which can obviously be good) but you can tell when kids have been reading too much bad news. As an example, each year I do an exercise where the kids predict what they think will be invented in the next 100 years. They used to predict things like flying cars, space travel, cancer cures etc. Now they predict nuclear weapons, guns and biological warfare…and they’re ELEVEN.


3. Social anxiety

I’ve taught middle school for around ten years, all of them in title 1 schools. I’ve noticed much more generalized social anxiety post covid. Students simply don’t socialize with people who are not in their friend groups. I’ve always had “shy” students in class, but a much higher number of students do not socialize with others as a general rule now. There are not as many fights among students as there used to be. However, since the fights that do happen are recorded by several kids with devices, it seems to the students that there has been more fighting. People are way more tolerant of differences in others in the classroom, but bullying stiill happens. This being the case, the number of students who stick up for their friends against bullies or unfair teachers is also on the rise.


4. No creativity

I’ve taught middle school technology/video journalism for the last 13 years. Kids have gotten way less creative in terms of shooting and editing video. The TikTok/youtuber generation of the last 5+ years has led to more “point and shoot” filming with little else. No creativity in terms of shot composition, writing a script, trying cool editing techniques. Just lazy and uninspired efforts and little drive to learn anything new or try anything that steps outside of their comfort zones. This goes to other artistic/coding projects too we do in Tech, not just videography.


5. Hobbies

Fewer kids have hobbies. It used to be that every kid had at least one hobby to share during first day introductions. Now about 3/4 of kids say they don’t have any/don’t know/does TikTok count?


6. Boredom

i work(ed) with young children up to about 12 years of age. generally, children over the age of 5 do not know how to be bored. it’s like at that age they lose their natural curiosity and creativity and need artificial stimulation constantly.


7. Nerds

Geek and nerd culture is growing popular.


8. Less mature

I’ve been a teacher for 27 years and teach students from 12 to 18. I’ve noticed that they’re becoming less mature with time. Seventh graders are more childish, 10th graders are now what 9th graders were about 20 years ago and so on. Kids are less independent and rely more on adults to help them (for example, when looking up information that matters to them). I also notice that they live more in the present. A lot of them don’t know what public holidays there are, and are often surprised when we tell them that school will be out on a certain day. (When I was a student we were well aware of all public holidays and when school would be out.) Finally, since smartphones have become a thing and everyone has one, they have become quieter but less attentive. Instead of talking to each other in class, a lot of them are trying to be on their phone. If you left them alone in class 15 years ago, even older kids would be really noisy. Now they will be mostly quiet and on their phones.



Kids not so much. Parents are the ones who changed the most. Used to be if a kid was struggling you’d talk to the parents about and the parents would listen to your suggestions. Now if a kid struggles the parents blame you for failing and assume you’re a clueless moron.


10. No failure

An inability to handle failure. Many will have complete meltdowns if someone doesn’t immediately swoop in to “save” them. They’ve been so sheltered by helicoptering, bulldozing, and snowplowing, they don’t realize it’s okay to fail and learn from mistakes.

pickle pucker

11. Gentle Parenting Sucks

Kids are not being challenged enough. The gentle parenting trend, while a great idea, normally leads to permissive parenting. In other words, not telling your child “no”. God forbid I tell a child they can’t bite another child. Full blown meltdown. Which isn’t the worst part. I’m used to 3 year olds having meltdowns. It’s when the parents complain to my director about it.


12. Good and bad

I’ve been a teacher for 25 years now – in middle school that entire time. In the last few years, the changes have become really noticeable – really since COVID. Students no longer want to try to learn. They want the answers to be given to them for memorization only. Completely risk averse. Last year the lack of social skills was shocking too – things I would expect in preschool that 7th graders were doing (cutting other people’s hair, knocking over water bottles on purpose, damaging clothing or other personal items, etc.) I really think the attention span is nil as well. Constant input, little to no creativity, attention span of only a few minutes. Not wanting to think – I had kids asking me how to answer multiple choice questions because you can’t draw lines on the answer sheet.

BUT – I also have kids that are more accepting of differences. Racism has decreased so much. We have girls on the football (American) team and boys in cheer. Kids will come up and talk to me about how Joe broke up with his boyfriend Steve and not be wigged out about it. Kindness is actually more than norm than it was 25 years ago and ‘gay’ is no longer a slur. I’ve worked with two teachers who were married that were both female and my vice principal was openly gay. Kids had no issues with that! We still have some mean kids, but a larger percentage are kind and the mean ones are not as popular as they once were.


13. No consequences

I’ve been an elementary music teacher for 25 years. Over the years, I’ve noticed that children have less and less ability to regulate their emotions: more tantrums, more destructive rage, more crying when challenged. We used to send disruptive kids to the office. Now when a child goes on a destructive rampage, we evacuate the rest of the class while he/she destroys the classroom. And the rest of the kids generally take it in stride.


14. No creativity

For me there have been lots of changes, but far and away the biggest is a huge decline in creativity, work ethic, and sense of exploration.


15. Lost milestones

We’re also seeing very easy to hit milestones falling behind. Look I think most milestones are bullshit anyway, a kid will get it eventually. The issue becomes when our 4s room has to install a changing table because most of the kids are still in diapers.


16. Language

They don’t curb their language at all around adults.


17. Tense behavior

More recently, some students are really angry politically over things that previous students never saw politically. So, I teach an article about rhetoric used during the Holocaust against Jewish people to discuss language use and the rhetorical triangle. No complaints and students seemed to like it until about 2016. Then, suddenly, I started getting comments sneering about how people “want to feel oppressed” and “feel sorry for themselves” and how I’m a “brainwasher lib” for teaching it in my evaluations. It’s definitely the minority of students, but the language is all very I got this from certain circles on the internet talking points.

I also teach many of Thomas Jefferson’s writings in another class. Never an issue before recently when some students started complaining about his writings about slaves being included because apparently that is me “bashing founding fathers of America” and “attacking American values” even though it is literally words he published and stood by and I teach a lot of his writing, of which the slavery parts are pretty minimal. Maybe 3-4 pages of 40 pages we read from him. It’s just wild that teaching American historical documents from founding fathers in an Early American history class is now me “attacking America.”


18. Research

I’ve been teaching for 13yrs and the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that students have much less stamina to research and support their claims. If it’s not coming up in the first five Google hits, the answer doesn’t exist and the info they do find is “correct” because it’s on the internet.

battle level

19. They don’t care

Students are not really interested in getting good grades anymore. They even don’t want to be average. It is okay to be below average because you pass with a D (or a 4 in Germany). So why work harder?


20. The absolute truth:

Students are willing to do easy things, but if the assignment takes critical thinking or creativity, there is pushback.