Taking the ‘Youth’ out of Youth Culture

Taking the ‘Youth’ out of Youth Culture
Jeff Squires
  • 3 february 2009

One of the ideas that came up last week during the youth panel at our Good Ideas Salon in London, was that the term ‘youth,’ when referring to an entire generation (or two), is a massive oversimplification.

No more can you generalize the varied actions of adults as being part of an ‘adult culture’ can you generalize the behaviors of youth as being reflective of a ‘youth culture.’  Where adults are given any number of demographics to fit into, based on age, class, gender, race, or lifestyle, young people are predominantly still dumped into the graffiti-lined bucket of ‘youth.’

While the desire to have a nice and neat framework for discussing young people is understandable, the sheer number of socio-economic influences, coupled with young people’s ability to access niche subcultures through the web, makes establishing a single label very difficult – if not condescending.

This article by a 17-year-old Canadian on “the truth about teen culture” seemed to reinforce this idea:

“Teenager” is defined as “a person aged from 13 to 19 years.” This is an age range, not a cultural distinction. While all teens do share some characteristics that are developmentally related, adults do as well — just different ones.

It’s unfair to attribute personality characteristics to an age group. Even saying that Canadians are polite is considered generalizing, and that’s a group of about 33 million people. With 1.5 billion teenagers in the world, it’s gross stereotyping. When I had my photo taken with the other three new teen columnists, we were placed in front of a graffiti-covered wall downtown.

I thought it was a funky backdrop, but at the same time, it might well be perpetuating a misperception of teens as troublemakers.

I know teens who volunteer at the food bank, organize fundraisers, raise awareness about land mines and generally give of their time and energy to better the world.

We’re just as varied a demographic as small children, adults or the elderly, and yet the concept of a teen culture, created by advertising media, corporations and brands in order to market their products, has been blindly accepted by the public, including teens themselves.

The truth about teen culture and the tooth fairy


Turn Any Wearable Into A Mental Health Tracker

Fitness / Sport
Work Yesterday

Amazon Is Experimenting With A 30-Hour Work Week

The online retailer is launching a pilot program that will allow a technical team to work with a considerably shortened schedule

Fitness / Sport Yesterday

How The Rio Olympics Stood For More Than Just Games

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the finest moments beyond sports


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Advertising

See All
Retail Yesterday

Mobile Travel App Embraces Cognitive Computing

The Orlando Tourism Board is looking to IBM Watson to provide personalized local recommendations for visitors


Fernando Santana

Coworking In Sharing Economy

Automotive Yesterday

Bike-Friendly Apartment Building For Swedish Cyclists

A residential space is being designed for commuters to easily transport goods

Advertising Yesterday

Nike Takes Over An Entire City Block With A Giant Running Track

The Unlimited Stadium is shaped like a 100-meter sole print of the brand's LunarEpic sneaker

Gaming Yesterday

Fortune Cookie Service Brings Bad News To Your Doorstep

To promote their new delivery service Blackbox, the creators of Cards Against Humanity are delivering unfortunate messages in an edible form


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs Yesterday

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Arts & Culture Yesterday

This Picture Frame Could Be The Lava Lamp For A New Generation

Slow Dance makes real objects appear to move in slow motion

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Airport Mural Puts Passengers In The Clouds

The installation in an Amsterdam terminal lets travelers float through a series of billowing 3D digital shapes

Automotive Yesterday

DevBot Is An Intelligent, Driverless, Electric Car

The unmanned test vehicle from RoboRace is a preview of upcoming AI race models

Augmented / Virtual Reality Yesterday

AR Ski Goggles Make Racing Down The Slopes Even More Immersive

Israeli startup RideOn weaves digital overlays into the thrill of skiing with an unconventional pair of protective eyewear


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Advertising Yesterday

Japan Wants To Make 2020 Olympic Medals From Recycled Electronic Waste

The Tokyo Games could showcase the first-ever gold, silver and bronze awards made from discarded phones and computers

Culture Yesterday

This Small Town Has Become A Hide-and-Seek World Championship Destination

An old abandoned village in Northern Italy has become a massive playground for over one hundred competitive players

Design Yesterday

Garmin’s New Smartwatch Is Challenging The Luxury Market

The brand adds a premium version of its popular multi-sport trainer to its accessories collection

No search results found.