Molly Ringwald: Teens have it harder than in the 80s, ‘you’re expected to be on all the time’

Molly Ringwald is featured in Riverdale, now in its third season. She also has a film out on demand and in theaters called All These Small Moments, in which she plays a divorcing mom to two teen boys (trailer is here). Molly was interviewed by People Now, where they asked her about the differences in being a teen now vs. the 80s, when she starred in hit movies. Molly, 50, has daughters aged 15 and nine with her husband of 11 years, writer Panio Gianopoulos. She was gracious about teens and instead of calling them out for being on their phones all the time or posting their lives online, she understands that things are different and just feels sorry for them.

On how being a teen has changed since the 80s
I think it’s way harder now. I don’t even know if I would have continued to be an actor if I had to deal with the stuff that you’re required to do now. Just how much you have to put yourself out there. I had a sort of normal life and then I had my career and the two were very distinct. I don’t know that you’re allowed to do that [now]. You’re just expected to be ‘on’ all the time and that’s sort of stressful.

On how sets have changed since the 80s
Things are really different because [of] social media and the phones. When I was on the set with Breakfast Club we had to find ways to entertain ourselves because we didn’t have phones. It was just a different vibe.

[From two videos on People]

I appreciate it when celebrities empathize with teens and don’t bash them for how technology has changed. Other celebrities deny their teens phones or call them incapable of entertaining themselves and I don’t think that’s fair. However it sounds like she’s applying our standards to them. Social media is harder for us because we didn’t grow up with it. While Instagram may seem invasive and scary to us, a lot of teens like it. I don’t think it’s harder, just different. Some teen celebrities just post every few days to promote their projects and show slices of their life, but they don’t go overboard with it. How you use Instagram is a choice. Molly is on Instagram and she seems to know what she’s doing with it.



photos credit: Backgrid and WENN

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23 Responses to “Molly Ringwald: Teens have it harder than in the 80s, ‘you’re expected to be on all the time’”

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  1. grabbyhands says:

    “I don’t think denying them phones or calling them incapable of entertaining themselves helps anyone. ”

    I didn’t get this from her statement at all. In fact she says “it was just a different vibe”, which sounds like an observation and not a judgement.

    While I think people now are much more used to phones/social media, I don’t know that it necessarily makes you better at it or that it is used in a healthy way.

  2. Holly says:

    I’m 22 so not necessarily a teen anymore but when I was in high school twitter was everything and Instagram was getting started.

    Just because we enjoy the validation from it and the mindless scrolling doesn’t mean it doesn’t also weigh on us and create a level of anxiety about how we are portraying ourselves on social media. I can’t imagine the level of that I would feel if I was famous.

    • Esmom says:

      My sons are 18 and almost 20 and they are active on IG and Snapchat and while they’re fairly low key about their images, I can see how much effort goes into the social media presence of so many of their friends. It seems like the girls are much more aware of the image they portray but I have seen boys who also try really hard to show the coolest, greatest life ever. So yeah, I can imagine how hard it would be for a young celeb.

      I love Molly and The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink bring back great memories! My sons were not impressed with teen life as shown by John Hughes. Except for Ferris Bueller, lol.

  3. Erinn says:

    I’ve always loved her. And I think she’s right – but it’s all relative, I guess. Teens do have to be more ‘on’ now, but they also have a lot of luxury in the way that the internet is a super useful tool that the 80′s teens didn’t have in this way.

    I also have always thought Riverdale was incredibly stupid, but would watch it anyway as a guilty pleasure show. The ladies are great in it, and I have a soft spot for Cole. But I had to stop this last season because I just can’t handle seeing people get beat up constantly. My husband kept watching without me, and I could hear him laughing while I was reading in the other room.

    I like Sabrina a lot more.

  4. LORENA says:

    I cannot imagine being in highschool in the age of Instagram and Snapchat

    • Himmiefan says:

      Oh no (shudder). This is one area where older people definitely had it better. We got to be gangly, awkward teens without having to present ourselves on social media and read others’ comments about us. No wonder social media use is linked to depression in teens.

      • me says:

        I remember being a teen in the 90′s and highschool kids were brutal. Not only was it seen perfectly fine to say racial slurs but bullying was very rampant. I think every generation had it hard in their own way. I think teens now have more help. I remember reporting a bully to my teacher and nothing was done about it. Now a days A LOT would be done about it.

    • ariel says:

      I think as Gen-X people, we say a collective prayer to whatever we believe it that there was no social media when we were in high school/college.

    • Tiffany says:

      Me either. Good Lord, I already cringe when my former classmates post photos from those days.

      The difference is, those can be thrown away, lost or at best accidentally, put on fire.

  5. Michelle says:

    Every generation feels the same about a new trend. Look at rock & roll & television for the generation before those things. I’m a 80s teen so will always have a fondness for Molly Ringwald.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    My boys are years apart so it’s an interesting study to see the ones born in the 90s vs the youngest born 2005. The only thing I currently deny him is social media; however, he’s always on Xbox live playing so that’s just another form. Kids can be super huge assholes, so I’m waiting until he starts begging or listing all the pros and cons of its necessesity. I know they’re serious about something when they get all ‘presentation.’ He’s very sweet, loving and a bit too affected with negativity that orbits him personally, so I’m toughing him up lol. I play the mean kid or the absurd shithead that never has anything nice to say. What you say, how you you say it, and can you not say anything at all bear similar weights.

  7. cannibell says:

    She’s always seemed to be one of those people with her head on straight. Not a lot of celebs I’d want to spend free time with, but she’s on the short list.

    • H says:

      I used to think that too. I wanted to be her BFF after I saw Breakfast Club as a teen. But years later she was on a flight (I was a flight attendant) and wow…so rude and entitled. She demanded another FA pick her bag up and put it in the overhead bin. DEMANDED. While Breakfast Club is still my favorite movie, I now want to be Allison’s BFF, not Claire’s!

  8. SparkP says:

    OMG. She’s wearing her Breakfast Club boots in 2nd last pic. Love it.

  9. Lindy says:

    I really love every interview with her that I’ve read. She seems down to earth and articulate and like someone I’d want to hang out with. I actually do kind of think that social media and technology have made life harder for teens. There’s nowhere to go to get away from bullying at school. And with the significance of getting insta likes, I can imagine that it gets harder to simply have fun and enjoy an experience–you’re never in the moment because you’re always thinking about how to capture it for a post.

    I have kids 9 years apart. I didn’t have a smart phone with my first, and while I definitely took pictures, it was with a digital camera. Downloading them to my computer took awhile and I didn’t always have my camera with me so very often, I just had fun with my little guy and didn’t think about getting pictures.

    This time around (I have a 9mo), I almost always have my phone nearby and have taken zillions of pictures. I don’t do social media but I do share pictures with family members via Google photos. I sometimes feel some kind of weird FOMO if the baby does something cute and I didn’t get a picture of it. I don’t recall really feeling that way with my first. It sometimes feels like technology is slowly robbing us of that ability to be present. It has to be a conscious decision now.

    To be a teen now with that as the backdrop of most of your life feels like it’s gotta be exhausting. And sure they haven’t ever known any different but I still think it must be a good bit of subtle pressure.

    • Trashaddict says:

      I was at the school Halloween celebration with my youngest in the second half of the aughts.
      I flipped my camera around to take a shot of something like 10 or 15 parents, all lined up taking photos. It was emblematic of the new age – the compulsion to record events and share them but not actually being an actor in them (can’t say I’m not guilty of the same).

  10. Harryg says:

    My god, all the stupid things I would have posted as a teen! I’m so glad we didn’t have social media! Internet is great but it can be so harmful too. I’m glad we didn’t even have texting when I grew up.

  11. Milkweed says:

    I love Molly Ringwald. She’s such a rare combination of smart, funny, real, wise, and beautiful.

    I feel bad for today’s teens too. I went off all social media mostly to center myself, but also because I have two girls in elementary school and I want to model for them how to create boundaries in life. I won’t ban them from it, but I’ll be able to say, look out for a/b/c, that’s why I can’t be on it.

  12. Anastasia says:

    First, she looks GREAT. Secondly, I was a teen in the 80s and now teach high school, and she’s right–even for teens not in the public eye, there’s always someone or something watching. And they can’t get away with SQUAT.

  13. hogtowngooner says:

    The older I get the more thankful I am that I was born in the mid-80s: I know what life before the internet was like. I couldn’t imagine being a kid or a teen right now with social media. Those years were tough enough without being bombared with photoshopped pictures of “perfect” women, as well as bullies who can now torment you online. I don’t envy them at all.