On Youth Culture 

Youth live in a different world than adults, a world that is defined by their own culture. Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. When children interact, they fulfill this definition and create their own culture. We can think of several examples for each of these aspects of culture, a few being: belief in Santa Claus, playing during recess as behavior, toys as objects etc.  

When you are trying to understand youth-adult interactions, you must think of adults as ambassadors to a different culture. Adults are outsiders to the culture of children and the more you know about youth culture, the more you are able to communicate with and understand youth. Treat a child as you would treat a member of an unknown/different culture with separate symbols and language. If you step onto the the playground of a school during recess, you will hear and see things that seem foreign to you. Symbolic gestures like “the dab” and special language like “trill” can be seen and heard, and you will be immersed in a culture you don’t fully understand.

We like to think of children as an extension of our own culture and they are,  to an extent, but not exclusively. They are a different group because they relate to eachother in a way adults cannot: they are new to this world. Youth culture is based on the unique perspective of children (which separates it from adult culture), and this perspective is heavily influenced by their reaction to the adult world. Youth culture is a expression of this. 

The most interesting thing about youth culture is that it’s contingent not only on location, but on age. Most cultures are tied to a location (when migrants travel, it is tied to their heritage) which is still the case for youth. However, an individual will lose youth culture after a certain age. This is due to the fact that youth are in a socialization process, and are assimilating to the culture of adulthood.

Youth culture is a reaction to the world that children are born into, and is a common ground for children to relate to each other and interact while in the process of socialization/assimilation. Once an individual is fully assimilated, they no longer need youth culture and identify with other adults in their culture. Youth culture is then left to the new youth of society, to adapt and change it to meet new needs and reactions to the world.

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