Our generation is increasingly being told to “get off our phones”, “socialise more” and bombarded with headlines such as “social media controls teenagers’ lives”. These statements are literal to a certain extent but what else do we have to do. With local communities increasingly losing youth centres, less publicity for youth groups and funding for community projects withering. The question is what other alternatives are there?  


Phones and contact through social media have just become the norm, we simply cannot have a functioning society without them, we cannot picture everyday life without them, we cannot live without them however they have made socialising with people: face to face so difficult as we are so used to expressing ourselves online through a completely different medium, for example: emojis. Older generations and people easily put the cause of this obsession on us. I for on,  think that is unjust to blame this generation as it is all we have ever known; we are the dawn of the tech age and it is only right we embrace it. With this being said, it is still important we know how to socialise face to face therefore I wanted to explore options I have in my local community. 


Lewisham, my borough, often advertises and promotes many activities especially taking place during half terms, so this half term, I attended a dance workshop lead by protein 21 dance company. This program was targeted at children aged 10-16 however, when I attended, I found that I was one of the oldest with there, only being one other 15 year old. I felt quite embarrassed and found it hard to interact with the rest of the children there as the majority were still in primary school. This experience has definitely put me off attending other programs. In addition, libraries in Lewisham run many activities but again they are aimed at younger kids and are very family orientated.  


After all of this, I have concluded that the problem isn't with phones and so-called obsession with social media, it is wanting to close the empty space of lacking the opportunity to socialise and make friends. For many teens the only place of sociailisation is school which, quite frankly isn't intended for that, then teens look for the next best thing which is their phone which they can use to connect with others even strangers without a safety blanket or any adult supervision. This is what youth clubs provide a safe place where teens can socialise freely with people of a similar age. 


A few years ago, my local youth club, was going to be sold to developers. As a community alongside our local MP we fought to get it to stay open in which we succeeded, then renovations took place however we haven't heard any activity from it since.  


As teens this is the challenge we face, we are the generation that lacks one essential skill, the generation that has lost the one fundamental, we are the generation that lost out on the fun of meeting friends at the local youth club after school. All just because there is a lack of funding. This isn't how it should be.  


Dinah Owiredu