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FORGET DRINK, SEX AND ROCK AND ROLL: sober teenagers set sights on exams and careers


Far from the hedonism of their parents, today’s teenagers want to raise the age of smoking, drinking, gambling and sex, shun party politics and fear class more than racism or sexism.


Teenagers growing up in the shadow of the financial crisis are less likely to believe they will have a better life than their parents than any generation in living memory, new research shows.


Far from the popular caricature of youthful rebellion and excess, the study portrays a sober and conservative generation, more concerned with getting good results and building a career and family than hedonism.


The research, carried out by Ipsos MORI for the National Children’s Bureau, shows that British teenagers are more likely to want to raise the ages at which people can smoke, drink, gamble or have sex than lower them.


They are also less worried about sexism or racism hampering their progress in life than disadvantage based on their parents’ level of wealth.


While many would like to lower the voting age, more than seven out of 10 have no connection with any political party, making them twice as likely to be floating voters than members of their grandparents’ generation.


Although perennial adolescent preoccupations such as appearance or weight feature on their list of concerns, the study shows that four in 10 also worry that their parents work too hard and a third are concerned about their family’s financial situation.


More than 2,700 schoolchildren aged between 11 and 16 were interviewed about their hopes and fears for the NCB’s “Generation Next” survey gauging attitudes of those born since the turn of the century.


They emerged as more anxious about their future than previous generations but less worried about traditional barriers.


Only one in nine believed that it is easier to get a well-paid job if you are white and only one in eight thought it is easier for men.


But 35 per cent of those polled thought coming from a rich family made it easier to land a lucrative job and more than a quarter believe a private education helps.


Notably, however, more than a third of children from black backgrounds and one in seven from Asian backgrounds do believe that race maters in the job market.


When asked to list the issues they are concerned about, seven in 10 mentioned fears about getting the examination grades they need and 63 per cent said they worry about job opportunities when they leave school.


Overall only 37 per cent believe their generation will have had a “better life” than their parents. By contrast, comparable polling by Ipsos MORI shows that more than twice as many members of the wartime generation and 70 per cent of baby boomers believe they have enjoyed greater opportunities for happiness than those before.


“After six years of economic uncertainty, some members of Generation Next have probably experienced significant financial problems, years before they will enter adulthood,” the report notes.


“Perhaps we are seeing the emergence of a more financially conservative generation, one that is cautious of a volatile future and is pragmatic about what they want in life, and measured in how they can achieve it.”


The study also shows a noticeably restrained attitude to traditional sources of youthful excess. Most strikingly 42 per cent think the legal age for buying cigarettes should be higher than the current limit of 18, while only 10 per cent think it should be lower and 37 per cent want it unchanged.


Similarly 21 per cent would raise the age of buying alcohol while only seven per cent would lower it and 37 per cent would raise the gambling age against only nine per cent who think it should be reduced.


Meanwhile almost half thought that 16 is too young to join the Army and 44 per cent would also raise the minimum age for marrying.


Notably, more teenagers (22 per cent) would raise the age of consent for sex than would lower it (16 per cent).


When asked about their own neighbourhoods, their top concerns included serious matters such as crime and anti-social behaviour the cleanliness of streets and the lack of affordable housing, Annamarie Hassall, acting chief executive of the NCB said: “We have found that young people are passionate believers in equal opportunities, and believe gender and race should not affect their chances of finding good jobs, but that family disadvantage is still seen by many as a barrier to getting into work.


“In particular, politicians should note that the next generation of voters is not convinced about how much the Government will do to improve their life chances; they rely on their own hard work in education to improve their career opportunities.”


Source:  www/telegraph.co.uk   9th July 2014