Miserable teenagers

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!

One Comment

  1. I really like the phrase “appurtenances of affluence”, whether it’s yours or Mr. Riddle’s. I also endorse your (and his) analysis of the observed dissatisfaction. Facebook and other social media are replete with millennials and others who appear to have plenty of money to equip themselves with the latest and greatest tech from phones to games, most of which I can’t afford. Frankly, I would admit to a certain amount of envy of these apparently well-off care-free youngsters. Probably, if the truth were known, a significant number of them are technologically equipped at the expense of their parents who are saddled with the burden of such debt as to cause depression if not desperation but, hey, that’s the price many pay to gain the love of their children these days. My point is that much of the envy is generated by an illusion that naive and impressionable youth are unable to dissemilate. They see an artificial picture that leaves them envious, dissatisfied and, perhaps, instilled with seeds of enmity upon which nefarious actors might prey.

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