Teenager Lucy Young is tired of seeing all teenagers being tarred with the same brush; that brush being one of negativity. When she looks around at her friends and peers The Claverham Community College student doesn’t recognise some of the stereotypes of teenagers that are portrayed online. Here, in her first piece for Hastings In Focus, Lucy explains that the teenagers she knows certainly don’t conform to those stereotypes.
Teenagers… who are we asks Lucy Young?
Is it fair to say we are the reckless generation? Is our ‘impulsive’ behaviour a result of being branded as emotionally unstable?
To begin let’s look at the stereotypes. Just do a google search for ‘who are teenagers’, and you’ll discover results that include ‘Why are teenagers such moody, lazy, selfish nightmares’ and ‘all teenagers take stupid risks’. Oh! how unimaginably wrong this?
Four in five teenagers hold the belief that the media is falsely and inappropriately stereotyping us. Teenagers are often commonly associated with alcohol, drugs and crime so really this comes as no surprise. But we ask, WHY are we associated with these things?
Must be factual
As a teenager I know it’s ludicrous to stereotype all teenagers in this way. But what we see in the media are the stories about teenagers who are caught shoplifting or in extreme cases of the teenagers who commit violent crimes, sometimes against the elderly. This is what we read in the news about teenagers and that, of course, means that it must be factual.
But what about the majority of young people who are not involved in such things? I’m a teenager so let’s look at my life.
I go to school five days a week and I have a Saturday job in order to earn money for when I go out with my friends and I know this is the lifestyle of the majority of my friends – we’re just ordinary teenagers and in the majority, the media might not like that and might still want to highlight the negatives, but what about the positive things many teenagers do on a daily basis?
At Claverham Community College at Battle, 14 year olds organised a charity cake sale for The Snowflake Trust Hastings, raising money for The Snowflake Night Shelter in Hastings in order to help the homeless this Christmas.
Two girls, Jess Morris and Grace Gallivan-Young and have organised this with their form every year and told me, “it is nice to help out” and said they want to “help others who aren’t as fortunate.” They raise between £200 and £300 every year.
As an another example, one of my closest friends, Poppy Turner, is 16 years old and volunteers on Saturdays at an animal sanctuary in Bexhill: “We take in animals that have been rescued or in need of help and take care of them and feed them,” she told me.
These are just two examples of teenagers giving help and money to their local community through their own free will. Shouldn’t we be highlighting this in the media? The charitable and kindly attitude of many young people?
Teenagers haven’t always been depicted this way, so why now? Today’s teenagers have been raised on smartphones and with social media, which could be the reason we are perceived in a different light compared to past generations of teenagers. Social media has brought many negative impacts to teenagers’ lives… a negative impact on mental health being a major one. Unfortunately, for a huge number of teenagers social media is an integral part of their daily lives, many developing an obsession for the number of likes their social media posts attract which can lead to symptoms of anxiety in many young people.
In my opinion, this society we live in has shaped teenagers and created the stereotype of today. We didn’t ask for this. However, the violence and crimes teenagers are associated with are unacceptable. There is a common misconception that there isn’t much more to a teen’s life than the stereotype, maybe if the older generations were more open minded then they would see that just isn’t true.
Is it fair to stereotype over 50s men with sexual assault because of the actions of some high-profile celebrities from the 1970s? Is it fair to say all unemployed people are lazy and living on benefits? The media may highlight muslim extremists but that doesn’t mean all muslims are terrorists.
How is it fair to accept and encourage a multicultural society but not the younger generation?