Growing up in an age of austerity has left its mark on today's young people

A new survey paints a depressing picture of this generation

Share

“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 from life, and measured in how they can achieve it.” These carefully-calibrated words, taken from a significant report into the attitudes and aspirations of people born since the turn of the millennium, would appear to be in sharp contrast to the picture we've been presented of today's teenagers by some newspapers.

Those images of young mini-skirted women, drunk and disorderly, on the streets - and sometimes in the gutters - of Britain's cities are clearly masking the truth. Binge Britain? Hardly. According to this survey of 2,700 11-16 year-olds, this is a generation more likely to be at home, worrying about the debt crisis, and too concerned about their career prospects even to think about the hedonistic temptations to which teenagers have customarily been prey.   

It's a pretty depressing picture, if you ask me. This survey, undertaken by MORI for the National Children's Bureau, concludes that a majority of young people today believe their lives will be harder than those of their parents. This is unprecedented - sadly, it's almost certainly true - and it leaves the tricky question of why this should be so.

I have noticed that my daughter and her friends - in their mid-twenties - are much more socially aware, and also conservative in their social attitudes, than ever I was at that age. They appear to worry more - anything from global warming to being unfriended on Facebook - and have much a more responsible attitude towards drugs. And now we discover that those who are even younger are so bedevilled by financial concerns that they can hardly stir themselves to watch another episode of Friends.

Read more: Ignore young voters at your peril
Kids, eh? Now they persist in being useful and contented

A third of the young people interviewed were worried about their parents' financial situation, and a whopping 63 per cent said they were anxious about getting a job when they left school. They also believe their parents work too hard, and are clear that being born into a wealthy family turns out to be an extremely clever career move. Growing up in an age of austerity has clearly left its mark on this generation. But that only tells part of the story. Today's teenagers are surrounded by media in a way previous generations never were. They are connected to the wider world. They are also given choices, and have a once unimaginable level of self-determination. The awareness and these freedoms mean an accelerated development, and, with that, comes a greater sensitivity towards real-life issues that those of us who were born into a much more licentious age still have difficulty tackling.

I blame the parents. We impose ourselves on our children's lives in a way our own parents never did. They would let us get on with things, and we either worked it out or not. Today's parents interfere, get involved, take their children out of school to go on holiday, expose them to a lot of adult company,  but at the same time convey a creeping anxiety about the dangers outside the home. It's no wonder the teenagers of 2014 are old before their time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Research Executive - Quantitative/Qualitative

£27000 - £31000 Per Annum Excellent Benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

ETL Developer / Consultant

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Primary supply teachers required in Stowmarket

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron and Ed Miliband attend the Queen's Speech on 4 June 2014  

Scottish referendum: It's hard for us Labour supporters to admit, but Cameron did good here

Rob Marchant
NO ballots are stacked on a table during the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum: Some divorces are meant to happen – this one wasn’t

Dotti Irving
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week