The death of the teenager

Six months ago, I ceased to be a teenager. It was a sad moment; I realised that I was finally growing up and had to take responsibility for myself. I am an adult (I still can’t say that without feeling like a fake, but I’ll get there!).

But what I’ve noticed is that, although your teenage years are supposed to be from when you’re 13 until when you’re 19, this period is increasingly shrinking. There is not time to be a teenager anymore; there is less of a gap between innocence and corruption (OK, maybe that is an over-dramatic analysis of being an adult).

When I was a teenager, there were things out there for me; I could buy teenage magazines like Bliss and Mizz, there were websites like BBC Slink for all my problems, there were crossover TV shows for those becoming teenagers on CITV and BBC, there were makeup kits and books specifically designed for young adults.

There is now a void where all this stuff used to be. Kids TV is going down the toilet anyway. And it (sadly) makes sense to push children into the ‘adult’ group as soon as possible, because they become adult consumers who are no longer immune to all the expensive and extensive ranges of beauty products and clothes out there for older groups.

So, what now? The teen industry is a flailing, defeated shell of it’s former self. Teenagers want to be like grown ups as fast as they can, so why wouldn’t they read adult magazines? Most of the teenagers I know read Look, Grazia, Glamour and More (well, they did read More before it went out of business recently). All the teen magazines and sites left out there feature the exact same celebrities and products that you would find in a magazine for an older age group. But, really, what choice have they got? They need to compete. Teenagers don’t buy magazines anymore; social media takes care of all their needs. Teenagers don’t want to read the tame stuff you used to find in Bliss; one look at some of the erotic stories for teenagers on Wattpad tells you all you need to know.

Over the past couple of decades, magazines have been dropping like flies, and sales rates have slowed alarmingly. Seems like teenagers have bigger and better things to do than read teen-orientated copy. People now rely on their friends and key internet figures (like bloggers and youtubers) for advice, rather than agony aunt pages. Maybe this gives teenagers back control over their lives and how they relate to media. But I also think this can sexualize very young teenagers and inspire them to rush towards adulthood too quickly.

I know that I sometimes look back, all misty-eyed, at those times when my biggest worries were which earrings to buy from Claire’s, and what it meant if a guy waited a certain amount of time to text me back. You can bet that teenagers like ‘tampon girl’ (you remember her, right?) have a lot more things on their mind than that.

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