Whilst writing an article for the upcoming magazine [I know right?! Not long to go now!] I needed to do some research about the different social media platforms available to our youngsters.
Now, I don’t know if I’m caught in THAT age loop, but I’m approaching the big 3-0 [ssh!] but still, consider myself to be able to relate to people about a decade younger than myself. Well…wasn’t this an exercise in reality!
I’m sat here dumbfounded at the difference in the world I grew up in as a teenager and the one our hormonal beauties are struggling through. At the tender age of 13, I was heavily influenced by music. Depending on my mood and who I was hanging around with, this varied wildly between: Prince, Suzanne Vega, Al Stewart, Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, Linkin Park, Metallica and Nelly, Coldplay and NSync [Keep your judgements to yourself!] Shout magazine, MSN Messenger and J.K.Rowling.
I had a mobile, a blue Nokia 5185 (sometimes in the grips on nostalgia, I still miss the simplicity of that phone) used to play Snake or text my besties until the irritating moment that my £5 credit ran out. We’d switch to MSN if a) the phone wasn’t in use b) the sound of the dial-up wasn’t going to annoy anyone c) if the allowance hadn’t been used up. Chatting was the centre of my world [if I wanted it to be] but it wasn’t straightforward and I couldn’t add strangers easily. I didn’t know how and neither did I have the inclination do so…neither did my friends.
I choose 13 because a lot of popular apps that I use and would expect to have a minimum user age of 16 are actually 13. A lot of said apps centre around the sharing of media, photos and videos. That wasn’t possible “in my day” and I am so concerned about it. Am I a fuddy-duddy? At 13 I either didn’t want my photo taken at all or only in a group picture with friends…then we’d wait for the film to be developed…if we remembered to take it to Boots or Super Snaps. There were no filters. No application of make-up prior to posing for the photo. Any mockery from said photos came because you genuinely looked hilarious – it was not done to bully people or to measure self-worth. My goodness, the teens are a time rife with self-esteem and body issues already! The feelings of discomfort in PE changing rooms because you’re not developing as quickly as the girl next door. How did we jump from that to this?
I am horrified that this has been extended to making teens grow up even quicker than necessary. MAC makeup on a 13 year old? For a start, what a waste! [don’t tell me you’re not thinking it too!] perfect complexions, plastered with very thick and poorly applied foundation on skin that does not need it! Fake eyelashes? Handbags instead of school bags [decorated in badges and written all over by peers] Not only are they growing up too quickly but this generation are skipping rites of passage. They’re jumping to the next level pressures of adulthood without the basic-level of school ground politics. It’s so sad.
I don’t know the solution. It has really opened my eyes to the world that we live in and I do not like what I see.
I have so many thoughts, concerns and unsettled feelings about all of this. What impact is it going to have on these maturing adolescents – on our society?