Extreme Teens

Something important is happening and almost nobody is talking about it. That’s possibly because it’s happening in a parallel universe known only to teens and certain members of Generation Y. Did you know, for instance, that there has been a 500% + increase in requests for photo retouching services at Snappy Snaps, a chain of photo shops in the UK? Why is this? The reason is that people want to look as good as possible on online dating and social networking sites.

Teens have always been interested in how they look to others but things seem to be getting a bit out of control. People are now constantly connected and as a result they are under continuous pressure to be doing something interesting and to be looking good. Superficial? Certainly. Avoidable? Certainly not.

Nothing new in this in a sense but what’s changed is that there is now no real privacy or downtime and this is generating a new form of teenage angst. Thanks to mobile phones, digital cameras and social networking sites, teens are under immense pressure to be having a good time all of the time. It’s a bit like Hollywood celebrities being afraid to go outside without new clothes and a haircut but thanks to the likes of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter it’s now happening in Cricklewood.

This is the new normal for millions of teens and some of them are cracking up. The peer pressure to be constantly switched on and available – and looking good – is immense, especially at school.
A good example is a new website for busy young socialites called SQUA.RE (their caps not mine). This is a user-generated site where individuals can showcase their retouched image and luxury lifestyle to others.

Fortunately I’m not on it.

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3 Responses to Extreme Teens

  1. Paul Roberts says:

    How do you know some of these Gen Y’s are cracking up? What seems abnormal to you may be normal to them. If your life experience has been that things are always changing – and haven’t they over the last 10 years – then you are more likely to cope. Yes?

    It’s otherwise known as coping with complexity.

  2. Richard says:

    Good point. The comment is based upon anecdotal evidence plus a bit of sitting around in focus groups. It’s certainly not a major trend but it does appear to be an issue with some people. What is very interesting how how Gen Y is developing different attitudes and behaviour based around technology. For example, generational differences regarding digital privacy.

  3. Ike says:

    …under continuous pressure to be doing something interesting
    …under immense pressure to be having a good time all of the time

    These pressures magnify as one goes down the social (affluence) ladder. Without the financial means to achieve these ends constructively, they find less socially acceptable (or even anti-social) routes to the same end. Teens are only partly to blame for this. Their work is generally valued well below the poverty level, creating an insurmountable divide between their reality and the aspirations we have instilled in them.

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