I'm about to seriously date myself here, but my parents put a car phone in the car I used most often. My friends thought it was the coolest thing EVER, until my parents' called to find out when we'd be back . . .
The teens I know are plugged in all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. My husband was just at the high school talking about his job as a prosecutor and asked how many people had seen naked pictures of at least one of their classmates that were taken on a phone. He said well over half raised their hands in each and every class. Crazy!
So, I think with all of these new conveniences - like them all having access to phones, and internet at all hours of the day, also brings a lot of challenges with it. We're living more and more in such a competitive society, and when you're as connected as the youth are, you're going to feel that pressure even more strongly. They need to be smarter, taller, thinner, stronger, faster, better . . . in everything, and that's too much to live up to.
As an adult, how do you keep your finger on the pulse of today’s youth?
Staying connected with the youth is probably the best part about writing for the YA audience - though, I do occasionally run books by their parents . . .
I taught high school for about six years before I had my daughter. I still occasionally coach track or help with the theater department at the nearest high school. I'm part of young adult activities that happen once a week, and teach the teens at the church I attend.
But I think it's more than that - it's in the little things like really taking the time to get to know the girls (and yes, boys) who babysit my kids. Really learning about the lives of the teens in the theater productions, and the teens who run track is where I've gotten a ton of my writing ideas from. I love the exciting time they are in their lives, and it's fun to be a part of that.
Oh. And I ALWAYS let them pick the music ;-D
I'm honestly half envious of our youth, and half grateful I grew up when I did.