How teenagers are more 'zedonists' than hedonists

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The Independent Online

They enjoy quiet nights at home and view their parents as friends. Welcome to the world of today's "mild child" teenagers.

They enjoy quiet nights at home and view their parents as friends. Welcome to the world of today's "mild child" teenagers.

While the early 1990s were epitomised by the slackers of Generation X and the beginning of the new millennium by the over-indulged, celebrity-driven youngsters of Generation Y, the new "zedonists" (as opposed to hedonists) shun fame in favour of family and want their own businesses.

A survey of 500 young people aged 17 to 24 found that only 5 per cent felt their parents didn't understand them.

More than half described their mother and father as "good mates" and just 6 per cent of those who were still living at home felt a desperate need to "fly the nest." While Douglas Coupland's 1990s novel Generation X described a world where unemployed graduates spent days on the sofa smoking dope and nights partying until dawn, today's teenagers view all night raving with horror.

More than half (53 per cent) said they would not want to spend the whole of Saturday night at a party "because if would wipe out the rest of the weekend". Ninety-four per cent - described their ideal night out as getting a takeaway meal with friends or going to the cinema. If they do feel miserable,48 per cent said they would opt for a chat with their parents.

One in three believes the best route to success is to study hard and one in six already knows what he or she wants to do and has been working towards it since starting school.

One in five would like to start their own business, but just 13 per cent cited money as the major factor in choosing a career.

Michael Gillespie, of the youth market analyst company Vegas, said: "The rebels won. Baby boomer parents have changed their parenting style to create a different relationship with their children."

He added: "While today's teens are materialistic, they don't expect rewards to be handed over on a plate.

"They know they are one of 300,000 people chasing 80,000 jobs and are more focused on their studies."

They even view fame and fortune with disdain. Eighty-seven per cent believe the current celebrity culture is " too influential".

Bobby Brittain, youth brands director for Coca-Cola GB, which commissioned the survey, said: "They are not prepared to leave anything to chance."

Esther de Jong, 21: 'I think clubs are sleazy and drunken'

Esther de Jong is more concerned about getting a good job after her degree than going out drinking.

She says: "I gained 10 A* grades at GCSE, and 5 As at A-level, and then went to Cambridge. I'm now working hard in my theology finals. I hope to land a job as a psychologist."

When she does go out, she prefers quiet nights with friends rather than big parties. "I think clubs are sleazy and drunken. My social life consists of going to pubs, the cinema and dinners," she says.

Family is also important to Esther, who says: "[My parents'] love, attitude and faith have always inspired what I do."

Esther says that she is careful with her money, though she enjoys shopping. She will be voting in Cambridge on Thursday. She says: "It's a right and a privilege that people, especially women, have died for, and that others would kill for."

She added that many people are too obsessed with celebrities. "People in our generation are concerned with what other people think of us, which goes along with a largely materialistic attitude."

Chine Mbubaegbu

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