Teens learning to expect stock market crashes, understanding global role of U.S. economy

But Du thinks the economic crisis has made Americans more aware of where their money goes.

The U.S. economy has taken a turn for the worse. The stock market plummeted, while unemployment rates rose dramatically. Adults are going through difficulties financially, so how are teens faring?

“So far it’s just the little things that have gotten cut out,” said Eric Zager, a junior at Woodbury High School. “You know, like the everyday luxuries. (For example) with Christmas… my extended family and my family aren’t really exchanging gifts this year.”

Katherine Du, a sophomore at Math and Science Academy in Woodbury, is in a similar situation. “We tend to spend more time clipping coupons and being more aware of what we do, like turn off the lights when we’re not in, or turning off the water,” she said. “We’re just more aware of where the money goes.”

Ian Taylor, a sophomore at Woodbury High School, feels that for him, nothing has changed at all. “The state of the economy has not really affected my lifestyle or decisions,” he said. “I come from a thrifty family that spends money sparingly anyway.”

Even if they aren’t feeling the pressure themselves, teens are still aware of the struggles of the people around them.

“My aunt’s job got cut,” Zager said. “And to make up for it she now works two full-time jobs just to balance everything out. She also has two kids in college.”

How does the economy affect Americans as a whole? “I think that our economic situation has overall been fairly hard on a majority of Americans,” Zager said. “Because every day more and more companies go out of business and jobs are lost.”

Taylor, however, begs to differ. “Ironically, many positive things have happened because of this,” he said. “I think, like when gas prices rose, the economic crisis has allowed Americans to rethink their consumption methods… and become more aware of their investments. The economic crisis has also led to a growth in money experts… giving advice to the American people. … Foreigners will see a different side of Americans in our reaction to our crisis.”

Emily Shaw, a junior at Woodbury High School, doesn’t see any hope for a revolution in the way Americans think about money. “I think that Americans may cut back a bit,” she said, “but I think for the most part they will continue to spend money they don’t have.”

But Du thinks the economic crisis has made Americans more aware of where their money goes. “(Americans have) stopped buying stuff,” she said. “Even though the stores have sales, they’re just much tighter with their money. There are some who (think they) should buy things now before it gets really bad.”

It’s hard for most of us to see what is going on in the big picture, but most teens agree that the U.S. economy has had a huge affect on the global situation.

“I think that our economy isn’t independent,” Shaw said. “The global economy is suffering because of this crisis, I’m sure. We think we’ve got it bad as Americans, but I’ll bet people in third-world countries have it worse.”

“It has been seen in the economies around the world that when our market went down, many of the other countries’ markets also went down,” Zager said. “Some countries … are probably having serious problems just trying (to function) and to feed their people.”

What have teens taken from this experience?

“I now know not to always think that the stock market will always be good, house markets will go down,” Du said. “I know not to take things for granted. Since we’re going to be the generation to pay for all of this, I hope that we can be responsible.”