, PARIS, 24 Feb – For teenagers the world over, life is often an edgy, even volatile balance — do you live for the moment or plan for what’s ahead, chase the ideal or focus on the pragmatic.
From one continent to another, their priorities are strikingly similar — friends, studies, family, future — but their worries are often shaped by where they live.
As part of our series on teenagers, we asked a random selection of middle-class youngsters from various capitals how they see their world.
Anthika, 18, Bangkok
Being a teenager in one of the world’s most vibrant capitals is a thrill, says Anthika, but she admits to worrying about the impact of globalisation on Thai culture.
Her generation has led Bangkok’s transformation into social media hotspots and Anthika enjoys how sites such as Facebook and Instagram keep her in touch with her peers and the easy access to information.
But, she adds: “Our values (as teenagers) are more materialistic, people want big cars and motorbikes from parents. Maybe it is the influence from other countries.”
This first-year psychology student fears that with everyone glued to their gadgets, there is a danger teens are losing their way.
“People nowadays use so much social media that they forget to interact with people in their own families,” she says. “They often don’t go to temples…They interact less with older people.”
Katinka, 17, Berlin
Katinka is representative of a new Germany that is open to the world, and welcomes the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees to her country.
She views the future with an optimism, in a country often weighed down by its war past.
“I think that we are … becoming more tolerant towards all kinds of minorities. We have not reached the goal of course but we are on the right path,” she says.
What she does not like about the world today is “hate, and all the things it causes, such as racism, sexism and all other kinds of humiliation.”
Like many other teenagers, Katinka is focused on “handling school and keeping my relations up while still graduating with good grades.”
“But I also worry what may come after school. What will I study? Will I get a good job? Will I be able to ‘succeed’ and do I want that?”
Jedidiah, soon to be 13, Lagos
For Jedidiah, who lives in an upmarket suburb in Africa’s biggest city, the priority is getting the best education she can. “And having fun!”
There are not many places for teenagers to go out in Lagos. “But we go to the cinema and we have sleepovers at friends,” says Jedidiah, who also enjoys making music videos on a smartphone app.
In this megacity, where crime is an ever-present fear, there is no chance of going anywhere without a chaperone as youngsters elsewhere might do. “I am afraid of getting kidnapped,” says Jedidiah, adding how much she hates what Boko Haram Islamists are doing to her country.
“I wouldn’t want to stay in Nigeria,” she adds. “I would like to become an architect or a fashion designer and go around the world.”
Elad, 14, Tel Aviv
Elad dreams of a “less hateful world” and thinks the solution is that “each country calms hatred in its own territory, or makes it illegal.” Afterwards, “we talk to one another to make peace,” he says.
This young man, who faces compulsory military service in four years, is not yet too worried about the wars “far away”.