How have teens’ fears changed throughout the years?


Josie Hafer

Approximately 200 students participated in a survey to express what fears they face today. The wordcloud above expresses the most common responses. Word cloud compiled by Josie Hafer.

Abby Bower, News Editor

America today is different in many ways than it was just 30 years ago. There are new laws, and new technologies, but one surprising change in America is found in the things that people are afraid of.

While common fears still exist — spiders, ghosts, dogs or the dark — teens and kids today experience fears that might not have even been a thought in the 1980s, 1990s or 2000s.

According to studies by, older generations have a completely different mindset when it comes to being afraid. People who were old enough to truly understand 9/11 when it happened are more likely to be afraid of terrorism than a teen who either wasn’t alive or is too young to realize what was happening.

Another study published by a group called The Wire shows that when members of older generations were teens they feared war, and being drafted, along with communism, and illnesses such as AIDS. A study at states that some of the most common fears in people born from 1998-2003 are viewed as more drastic than those of older generations, which has been linked to the increase of teen anxiety and depression.

While everyone has a different answer when asked, “What are you afraid of?” some answers come up often with teens at LHS and teens around the country.

One fear that shows a big gap in the generations is technology. Saebra Woods, a senior at LHS, expressed how she feels afraid that everyone in her generation is too attached to technology.

“[It’s] to the point where everyone kind of misses out on what’s really happening around them,” Woods said.

Woods also feels that people do things they wouldn’t normally do, only to gain likes on social media. While teens probably aren’t going to give up their cell phones anytime soon, she feels something needs to change before they completely take over.

Public shootings
Another, more controversial, topic that sparks fear in many students, is public shootings. While most of the people who fear this have not had a close call with a shooting, one student at LHS has a different story.

Junior, Damian Glenn, had a scary experience Sunday, Oct. 7, while he was at work in Lewiston. Glenn was sitting at his desk at the Lewiston Community Center when a lady walked in and asked him to grab her a flier. When Glenn left the room, the lady went to grab a notebook from her purse that caught on the trigger of the handgun that was also in her purse. A bullet shot through her bag and into Glenn’s desk, then into the wall where it stopped.

“If I hadn’t gotten up a minute earlier the bullet would have probably hit me somewhere in the abdomen area,” said Glenn. “Now whenever I’m out and about, my mind is just kind of wondering if I’m going to get shot.”

In light of many recent mass shootings, students said they feel constantly worried about the threat of a school shooter. Many have turned to Twitter to express concern when places, such as amusement parks and concert venues, fail to check bags, or pat people down before they enter.

Sexual assault
With the recent Breet Kavanaugh trial and the #Metoo movement, many people, especially young women, fear sexual harassment or even assault.

LHS junior, Ani Galeano, said that sometimes she feels like other people would find her fears irrational if she expressed them.

“Even if I’m just walking down the street when it’s dark, I can’t help but think there might be someone around the corner just waiting until I’m not paying attention,” she said.

Meanwhile, tech developers are making apps that make sure people are safe when walking alone, as well as a nail polish that can test for roofies in a drink.