Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

by Keith Richards & James Fox

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:51 pm

Pg. 139 - "By the late '50's teenagers were a targeted new market, an advertising windup. 'Teenager' comes from advertising; it's quite coldblooded. Calling them teenagers created a whole thing amongst teenagers themselves, a self-consciousness. It created a market not just for clothes and cosmetics, but also for music and literature and everything else; it put that age group in a separate bag. And there was an explosion, a big hatch of pubescents around that time. Beatlemania and Stone maina. These wer chicks that were just dying for something else. Four or five skinny blokes provided the outlet, but they would have found it somewhere else."


Teenager definition from Merriam Webster: Adolescence (lat adolescere = (to) grow) is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development that occurs between childhood and adulthood. This transition involves biological (i.e. pubertal), social, and psychological changes, though the biological or physiological ones are the easiest to measure objectively. Historically, puberty has been heavily associated with teenagers and the onset of adolescent development. In recent years, however, the start of puberty has seen an increase in preadolescence and extension beyond the teenage years, making adolescence less simple to discern.

The end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood varies by country as well as by function, as even within a single country there will be different ages at which an individual is considered mature enough to be entrusted with particular tasks, such as driving a vehicle, having sexual relations, serving in the armed forces, voting, or marrying.


In the 19th century, the American world consisted of children and adults. In the first part of the twentieth century, we made a startling discovery. There were teenagers among us! Until then, we had thought of people in just two stages: children and adults. . Most Americans tried their best to allow their children to enjoy their youth while they were slowly prepared for the trials and tribulations of adulthood. The girl became the woman, the boy became the man. It was as simple and significant as that.

The reforms of the early twentieth century, preventing child labor and mandating education through high school, lengthened the pre-adult years. In earlier times, a person reaching adult size at age thirteen or fourteen was ready to do adult work. Parents began waiting longer to goad their youngsters into marriage rather than pairing them off at the tender age of sixteen or seventeen. Now adult size was achieved as soon as ever, but preparation for adult responsibilities lasted until age eighteen or later. Thus the years ending in -teen became something new and distinctive.

It soon became apparent that a new stage of life — the teenage phase — was becoming a reality in America. American adolescents were displaying traits unknown among children and adults. Although the word teenager did not come into use until decades later, the teenage mindset dawned in the 1920s. To match our gradual recognition of this new phenomenon, we adopted new terminology. First, in the 1920s, we began to use teenage to speak of clothes and activities, girls and boys, in the latter cases recognizing the teen years but still assigning them to childhood. About two decades later, against the backdrop of depression and war, teenager was born. The exact date has yet to be determined; the word makes a matter-of-fact appearance in a 1941 issue of Reader's Digest, but being derived from long-established teenage, it must have been around at least a few years earlier.

One of the most important factors that led to the emergence of the independent teenager was the automobile. Teens enjoyed a freedom from parental supervision unknown to previous generations. The courtship process rapidly evolved into dating. In earlier times, young boys and girls spent their first dates at home. The boy would meet the girl's parents, they would have a sitting in the parlor, followed by dinner with the entire family. Later in the evening, the couple might enjoy a few moments alone on the front porch. After several meetings, they could be lucky enough to be granted permission for an unchaperoned walk through town. The automobile simply shattered these old-fashioned traditions. Dating was removed from the watchful eyes of anxious parents. Teenagers were given privacy, and a sexual revolution swept America. Experimentation with sexual behaviors before marriage became increasingly common. Young Americans were now able to look beyond their own small towns at an enlarged dating pool.

Automobile technology led directly to the other major factor that fostered a teenage culture: the consolidated high school. Buses could now transport students farther from their homes, leading to the decline of the one-room schoolhouse. Furthermore, Americans were realizing the potential of a longer education, and states were adding more years to their compulsory schooling laws. As a result, a larger number of teenagers were thrown into a common space than ever before. It was only natural that discussions about commonalties would occur. Before long, schools developed their own cultural patterns, completely unlike the childhood or adult experience. School athletics and extracurricular activities only enhanced this nascent culture. The American teenager was born.

Teenagers are notoriously obsessed with their complexions, their appearance, their social life, typical teenage problems that have spawned a thriving industry of advice-givers, guidance counselors, orthodontists, dermatologists. Their legendary need to fit in with the crowd generates healthy profits for a host of businesses from clothing manufacturers to pop music producers, teenagers are almost driven to keep up with the latest products and styles, marketers point out. With a population of 25 million and counting (according to the 2000 census, there are between 25 and 28 million teens in the United States) they constitute a red-hot consumer market worth $89 billion, almost ten times what the market was reportedly worth in 1957, when Elvis Presley was riding high. And that doesn’t begin to count the $200 billion or more their parents spend on them. Indeed, ever since the word "teenager" first came into popular use around the time of World War II, the group has been linked to "buying power and influence," a heady combination that promised big business to postwar movie makers, cosmetic firms, clothes manufacturers, and even grocery stores. At the time, the change was revolutionary, only a decade or so earlier, most teenage children had worked for a living.

Music played a major role, considering that what teens listened to back at the turn of the century was very much what their parents were listening to. Eventually that all began to change, and music, at least the kind that teenagers supported, would never be the same. Frank Sinatra and Johnny Ray were the earlier versions of Elvis Presley, causing women to scream and shout (and faint). Bob Dylan’s explosive entry into the pop music scene marked the official rise of an alternative youth culture. Presley gave us sometimes banned swiveling hips, popular music, and films. Then there were The Beatles and The English Invasion. It was never the same after that.

Movies obviously had a significant influence on teenagers, as did the coming of television. What teens saw at the movies and on television is what they wanted to be, whether it was Randolph Scott riding the plains, James Dean racing a car in "Rebel Without a Cause" or Princess Leia zipping around the galaxy in "Star Wars." Teenage sex had come out of the closet with movies like "Where the Boys Are," "Blue Denim," and "A Summer Place,".

The arrival of MTV and the Internet marked a turning point in our culture that will forever be known as the final step in commercialization of the American teen. Teenagers now had their own television channel and their own window to the world at the touch of a keyboard. These new instruments, one musical, one almost universal, told teens what to say, what music to listen to, what to wear, and how to act. They were now in control of their own world, one that catered to them.

The teenager remade our world. Retail chains, like Urban Outfitters and the Gap, vie for their business; magazine publishers offer Seventeen, Sassy, YM, and Teen (among others); and television networks like MTV, the WB, and Fox, program with their demographics in mind. Newspapers feature weekly sections devoted to teenage issues. With the discovery of this new age, ours has been the century of the teenager ever since.

Soures:
medianet.org
ushistory.org
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Gilbert's Girl
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Re: Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Nov 02, 2011 1:59 pm

Ah yes teenagers the 20th Century invention :lol:

Not sure how it was in the US but over here you could still leave school at 15 and got to work in the 1970's. And certainly at the beginning of the 20th Century kids as young as 12 or 13 were often expected to go out to work especially in rural areas but I expect that was the same over there.

Another good tidbit :ok:

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Re: Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:41 pm

Thanks, GG. Yes, I think we were very much the same as you all in that regard. Many kids left school early to work on the farm. Many city kids, if they even went to school at all, worked at an early age in the factories. And of course many married very early to start families of their own. As the tidbit said, from girl to woman, boy to man without anything in between.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:55 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Thanks, GG. Yes, I think we were very much the same as you all in that regard. Many kids left school early to work on the farm. Many city kids, if they even went to school at all, worked at an early age in the factories. And of course many married very early to start families of their own. As the tidbit said, from girl to woman, boy to man without anything in between.

You know I'm not sure about the early marriages over here, I don't think many did get married early, you had to be 21 to get married without permission although I don't know when that changed, and after the war I think alot of women preferred to work and of course there was still the fact that there were still less men to fill the jobs, or even find as partners

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Re: Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby gemini » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:22 pm

Yes, teenagers have always been even before they were named. :lol: My parents generation all worked young but by the time my generation came along we were expected to finish school and go to college and they preferred that we didn’t marry too young. I did have friends and relatives that quit high school to get married. I was a late bloomer. Looking at todays teens they still seem a mix of early starters and late bloomers. They certainly do have a market of toys merchandised for them from jeans and tennis shoes to smart phones and ipads. Of course as a teenager I had to buy all the latest 45 records so that dates me since now its all i phones and downloaded music.
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Re: Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Nov 03, 2011 3:05 am

gemini wrote:Yes, teenagers have always been even before they were named. :lol: My parents generation all worked young but by the time my generation came along we were expected to finish school and go to college and they preferred that we didn’t marry too young. I did have friends and relatives that quit high school to get married. I was a late bloomer. Looking at todays teens they still seem a mix of early starters and late bloomers. They certainly do have a market of toys merchandised for them from jeans and tennis shoes to smart phones and ipads. Of course as a teenager I had to buy all the latest 45 records so that dates me since now its all i phones and downloaded music.

Doesn't just date you :lol:

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Re: Life Tidbit #24 ~ Teenagers

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:50 am

I had 45 records too, gemini. At least until I left home and my mom threw them away! :banghead:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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