A survey by the Children’s Society in the UK has found that Britain has the least happy teenagers in Europe. The charity’s chief executive, Mark Russell, believes he knows the reason. It’s down to “the increase in child poverty”, he says.
There are two big problems with this explanation. The first is that “there hasn’t been a rise in child poverty in the UK”. The second is that our children are actually far better off than many others in Europe. Take Spanish youngsters: 82% reported themselves happy in this survey (compared with a mere 64% of their UK peers). Yet a Eurostat study by the European Commission shows they’re of equal risk of poverty or social exclusion as British children. Their peers in Greece, Italy and Romania are at considerably more risk, yet they rank among Europe’s most cheerful teenagers.
In fact, the correlation appears to be the opposite of the one Russell identified. It’s not a lack of money; if anything, it’s the “appurtenances of affluence” – feelings of entitlement, social media-fuelled dissatisfaction and envy – that are making our children dissatisfied, envious and miserable.
(Rod Liddle, The Sunday Times and The Week, 5 September 2020).
My comment: In the “good ‘ole days” we had no Facebook (which doesn’t mean there was no bullying, one-up-manship, or showing off). But, rose-tinted spectacles firmly on my nose, I recall a teenage-ship full of reading, music, school uniforms, the importance of sport, and talk (only) about girls; and that’s about it. Probably just as well!