It'd be great if people could ignore age, sex, etc. It'd be great if people could just provide constructive criticism. (Of course, if someone is suggesting something dumb ("I'm going to run this exploit scanner against my school network.") we need firm words to explain just how serious the effects on their future might be.
I agree that mentioning age in the title does drag the threads off-topic. But part of that is people being jerks to anyone who mentions their age.
"I'm 14; I made X" means "I'm 14. emacs is about twice my age. The Matrix was released when I was born. And Fight Club. And Sixth Sense. And Star Wars. (No, not the ancient Star Wars, Star Wars Episode I the Phantom Menace.)"
It means "I'm 14. OS X was released a couple of years after I was born." or "Windows 95 was obsoleted a couple of years after I was born." or "You've heard all those programming jokes about cars and programming languages or planes and programming languages and you've read all those papers about GOTO considered harmful and watched as people incremented their programming languages or moved to new platforms or introduced new ideas." or "You talk about 8 bit gaming or 16 bit gaming. I was born when the SNES was made obsolete. N64 had already been out a few years when I was born." or "Ubuntu got a first release when I was about 6."
There's just so much that kids don't know.
I find the younger ones pick up new ideas faster than some other generations, and can get more 'experience' than I can in a shorter amount of time. This is why I find it hard to want to treat them like kids, they are smart and intelligent, and often faster than me. I have no right to tell them otherwise by playing down to them. The best adults in my life were the ones who treated me as equal and respected me.
In my experience as a teacher, I would say that the most success I've had with teenagers was when I was able to show them that I trusted them to do a good job, and that I acknowledged that they could function on a higher level than a child. That doesn't mean I treated them the same as adults, because they're not. Let me give you an example:
When I was in high school, I was among the best young musicians in my state. I was twice ranked principal in the All State Orchestra, and I ended up going to one of the top music schools in the country. I won awards and scholarships and was praised by all, yada yada.
And yet, when I listen to recordings of myself play from that time, I am struck by two things -- one, that I was amazingly self assured, and two, that I sounded terrible. I couldn't hold a candle to any pro in any orchestra you could name. When you're a teenager, you suck at everything that is worth doing. You also suck at recognizing that fact, and are hormonally hard wired to not be able to examine your weaknesses. There are exceptions to the rule, always, but anyone in any kind of advisory capacity to a young person needs to recognize that and treat them accordingly. The last thing a kid who loves doing something needs is to be shown that they suck. Once they have a bit more skin in the game, the self examination can start.
A 50-year-old just starting out as a developer has already established to themselves that they can survive in the world as an adult; they have a history of successes (and failures, put into perspective over time...) that provide a base to their ego when they're criticized.
A teenager has no context, yet -- no way to assess their own value; a minor success may make them feel like they've conquered the world, but it's fragile. If you tell them it's shit, and they haven't actually done anything worthwhile, they'll may well also accept that completely and be devastated.
I run across teenagers who are surprisingly grounded now & again, but I know I certainly didn't feel like I had solid footing (and could navigate unkind criticism without being seriously hurt) until after I was out of college... and learned I could actually cut it in the real world.