Tag Archives: teenagers

Over the past few days I have been asking every teenager I have met what staple foods and drinks they would not be able to live without (not literally) and then giving them choices they had to pick from. The results were actually quite unanimous but not all that surprising (well for me) and I think certain big companies should take note of this as they may have found new target consumers.

The food of choice was the potato and the drink of choice was a cup of tea. ImageYes, that’s right, I asked 36 teenage boys and 27 teenage girls whether they would give up tea or alcohol if they could only live with one and 73% said they’d give up alcohol. This was a very small sample scale and may well just apply to Durham University students but I found it surprising (and very British, though these results may be biased by the 2012 year of the jubilee, Olympics and general Britishness) that teenagers these days would pick a cuppa over an alcoholic substance that seems to be central to so many of their surges of confidences and nights out.

I’m not surprised at all about the potato as that is a staple, and the source of chips and jackey p’s and all heavenly foods that are fundamental to teenager self catering. But the first choice of Tea! I’ve noticed that there has been less marketing over stopping binge drinking (it looks like it’s shifted more towards adults who habitually drink every night rather than binging on the weekend) but I hadn’t realised that there had been such a shift in preferences. As I said, this may all just be a total coincidence to the teenagers that I interact with who might just be abnormal teenagers with inner old granny personalities but the more that I think about it, the more that I think that yes actually, the teenager may be the actual core consumer for tea than the stereotypical granny or housewife or builder.Image

Now that my year group is now longer living together in college/halls and in separate houses/flats all over town, we generally do invite people round for a cup of tea and in the times of procrastination or just getting ready to start work or have a fry up, the tea is the first staple. When you look more into it too, the effects of having a good cuppa can be more enticing (and a lot more cheaper) than those of alcohol which usually comes with more regret anyway.

I have a previous post about the place that popcorn is beginning to play in our teenage lives, and now I can add to that and say that Tea is making a comeback. It might be to do with this whole massive surge in Britishness and patriotism but I think it’s more to do with people subconsciously realising how much they love and crave a good cup of hot tea. I will openly admit that I am a tea addict and I think that it is great that now it can be cool to be an addict for what used to not be thought of as a ‘cool’ chemical.

I haven’t even touched upon the ritual of tea making, the different types and all that jazz but the fact that it encompasses all of this not to mention the social cohesion that tea brings shows how fundamental it is to our daily lives. I think we may need to have a proper subcategory for Anthropology now, all the usual besides, just dedicated to food and drink. Maybe that can be my speciali-tea.

Tea and Potatoes

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News Online

With it being so easy to find a news article online in a split second, you’d think that this was a great benefit of the technological advances of the 21st Century, revolutionising News reporting. I certainly believed this to be the case, when news such as Osama bin Laden’s death, and the Egypt uprisings spread across the world within an hour via the means of Twitter and social media. Social networks like Facebook collaborated with leading newspapers to create apps whereby one can read articles through Facebook and see what their friends are reading too. Though this was an invasion of the privacy of whatever one chooses to read, I thought this was great, and upon seeing friends reading articles who I know never pick up newspapers and rarely have any interest in current affairs, I thought this would reap benefits. Nowadays, particularly in the midst of these Olympics, my Facebook homepage is always filled with recently read articles, and so I decided to spend a good 20 minutes just observing what my friends and fellow teenagers were reading on the internet to see if I could pick out any trends or just make any conclusions.

It took only 7 minutes for me to find one key trend and for it to transform my viewpoint of online news. All but one article that my friends have read recently (well according to Facebook) had been written pre-2010 and were from 4 online newspaper websites: The Guardian, The Washington Post, Yahoo and younews (India). Aside from the Guardian, the news articles were so outdated and not well written at all. Some outrightedly had misinformed data and were based on purely speculation that not even low brow gossip tabloids would include. I asked one of my friends who I had seen read an article about Harry Potter on the younews link their thoughts on it, and they had no idea that it was two years old and had been written by a member of the public rather than a journalist. With another friend, I asked them about the Yahoo article they had read about two frenemy celebrities, and she quickly changed the subject to how she’d read yesterday that Francis Boulle was going out with Louise Thompson from Made In Chelsea. I gave this a quick Google and in fact they date in early 2011, not recently. These two friends are studying at Cambridge.

Now this is just very selective to my Facebook friends, who all may well just be unobservant of dates and not caring about the quality and accuracy of the news that they are reading but I am almost certain that this applies to many teenagers across the UK who may not have been brought up by newspaper reading parents/who have no care for “proper” news per se, but just easily accessible gossip news that is right on their Facebook homepage made all the more cooler by their friends reading it and making it trend.

This led me to do some research and find out how online newspapers are doing generally (especially with the adult/post-educated), and who the main forerunners. I was shocked to find out that the New York Times has lost its ranking as the worlds biggest newspaper website to Britain’s Daily Mail. And only a quarter of Mail’s online readers are British. This is supposedly because of its political slant and biases which cause it to do well in an international global market, which apparently is the market necessary to exploit in order to survive as an online newspaper business. (Source: The Economist, 17th March 2012).

The fact that there is such a lack of impartial (well as best as it can be), good, clean news circulating around ordinary folk scares me. I really hope that my generation, with all this unreliable news at their fingertips, learns to evaluate it and take it all with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, I very much doubt that the Newspaper in paper form is going to have a strong presence in our lives and current affairs after 50 years, and the internet is always going to be filled with inaccuracies and trolls so it is up to us to read between the lines and make sure that we are not easily persuaded.

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Popcorn and its effects

In today’s Evening Standard (a free evening newspaper given out across London), it described how Cineworld has blamed their slowdown in revenue growth on the “challenging consumer environment”, with them seeing a 2.1% decrease in spending at popcorn counters in cinemas in 26 weeks till now (a decrease from 4% growth originally at the start of the year). My first instinct was how could Cineworld be surprised considering how expensive popcorn is these days and secondly, why has it only taken till now to realise/place the blame?

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In “The Armchair Economist” by Steven Landsburg (great book for anyone), he explains that whilst the obvious explanation of high popcorn prices are due to the owner’s monopolising techniques/having to cover costs like cleaning, it probably has more to do with the diverse interests of theatre goers and the relationships between liking popcorn and liking movies. I get this I guess but I don’t think it explains anything really new or really give a good explanation – how can a small box of popcorn which probably costs roughly 20p to produce, cost £5 with prices on the increase?

Of course I can’t offer an explanation on this – if Landsburg can’t (and he can offer explanations on nearly everything else in the economic rational world), then I definitely can’t. But what I can say is that if the high prices are to cover those costs like maintenance, surely it would be better to increase actual ticket prices? This might seem odd of me to say considering that my first proper post was based on me being shocked to have to pay high adult fares, but I do think that I would pay an extra £2/3 to see the new Batman film, but not £4 for a bag of popcorn that I can buy for 99p from the Sainsbury’s next door.

So to deviate this slightly and add an anthropological touch I’d like to tell you about the increasing importance of popcorn in teenage lives. You may not be aware of this not being a teenager yourself, or perhaps this just applies to my college at Durham but I have really noticed this year the dependence that teenagers have formed with popcorn. I could even argue that it is replacing the traditional comfort of a cup of tea. Not a day went by without microwave popcorn bags in our bin, nor a revision session. It does have addictive tendencies – have you suddenly got an inkling for some popcorn after reading this post? It became part of prinking, just hanging out with friends, and at times midnight trips to Sainsbury’s just to get some (wow, who would know that Sainsbury’s would get such a correlation with popcorn). I can guarantee that if you go two days with having popcorn whilst watching your evening telly, next thing you know, you will be buying boxes of Butterkist with every weekly grocery shop.

In a world filled with youths up to no good, illegal addictions and riots, it is nice to see that there is hope for new, more fun, healthier (and legal) addictions. Praise Popcorn.

…. but not it’s extortionate prices in the cinema.

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