In many ways, teenagers are the same now as they have always been; self-absorbed, defiant, and detached from their elders. The mind and body go through a plethora of changes during those years, which has had similar reactions throughout the ages and in different cultures.
What makes this generation different (here in American, anyway) is that they are not being held accountable for their actions. They are not taught responsibility. Society has decided the punishments are too harsh, so young people have no fear of repercussion. "In the old days," kids talked back to their parents, chewed gum in class and vandalized their neighbor's yards just as they do today. But the parents, teachers and neighbors back then were allowed to punish the kids, often physically, and the kids learned painful lessons. These days, when a punk kid is confronted by a responsible adult, the kid threatens to sue and continues being a punk.
So much is GIVEN to the younger generation, and they don't learn the value of EARNING what they have. That notion has be prevalent in various segments of society for generations, but it is more universal these days. As a parent, it is difficult to teach responsibility and self-reliance with all of the negative influences surrounding our children. Unfortunately, that is why things are getting worse, not better.