Germany’s youth ‘have lost their sense of fun’, study finds

Whereas previous generations were influenced by punk, techno and other subcultures, the modern German teenager is already dreaming of settling down in the suburbs, according to researchers.

Germany's youth 'have lost their sense of fun', study finds
Two teen skateboarders in Dresden in April 2018. Photo: DPA

The researchers behind the Sinus-Youth Study 2020 noted that “health is an ever more important issue” for German teens.

“Glamour, fun or the fulfilment of consumer desires play a less important role in the lives of participants than they did a few years ago” the study found.

“Instead, 'normal' goals like finishing school, the maintaining friendships and spending time with family seem to be important.

READ ALSO: German teenagers drinking less alcohol: Study

The researchers conducted repeat interviews with 72 teenagers. While the results cannot be considered representative, the depth of the study is unparalleled in German youth research.

Unlike their parents’ generation, the youth of today no longer sees pop stars like David Bowie as their inspiration. “They are much more likely to name someone who they know personally as a major influence.”

Sub-cultures are disappearing, the study notes, as ever more youth aspire to a “mainstream” life built around family, children and a solid but unspectacular job.

Although the 600-page report concludes that “somewhere along the line the concept of fun seems to have been lost,” the word Spaß (fun) is mentioned throughout.

But whereas Spaß once meant hedonism or rebellion, these days it is “Spaß am Lernen” (fun in learning) and “Spaß an der Arbeit” (fun at work) that are the top priorities for many kids.

“Teenagers have an ever more serious and realistic view of the world and its problems,” the study says. “They are concerned – even afraid.”

Top on the list of Weltschmerzen that the German youth are feeling is fear over climate change. They feel that their point of view is not taking seriously enough by older generations, who they see as doing too little to tackle the issue.

“The zeitgeist among teens is both green and conservative,” the study says.

Concerns were also raised among participants about migration and the polarising debate around it.

Many have a nuanced view of this issue, and are more likely to point out positives and negatives than those interviewed for the last study in 2016.

At the same time they fear a rise in hate speech. The ideals of solidarity, and self-sacrifice and modesty were mentioned prominently by participants.

READ ALSO: 2016 German teens just want to be mainstream

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German teenagers drinking less alcohol: Study

A study into the drinking habits of young people has revealed a continued decrease in regular alcohol consumption among German teenagers.

German teenagers drinking less alcohol: Study
Drinking has declined among teenagers in Germany. Image: DPA

But it also showed binge drinking was on the rise among young adults.

The research was carried out to get an idea of younger people’s drinking habits, both in terms of how often they drink – and how much. 

SEE ALSO: Germany should take drinking tips from Scotland, experts insist

Under one in ten (8.7 percent) Germans aged between 12 and 17 drank alcohol at least once a week. 

This is a significant decline from previous reports. A study conducted on the same age group in 2004 showed that one in five (21.2 percent) drank at least once per week. 

The findings indicate that public awareness campaigns about the dangers of alcohol may be paying off, while they also highlight a tendency among younger generations to be more health conscious than their forebears. 

Binge drinking needs to be tackled

The news was less good for Germans aged between 18 and 25 however, with more than a third (37.8 percent) drinking ‘to intoxication’ at least once in the past month before the survey was taken. 

Marlene Mortler of the centre-right CSU, who is the Federal Government’s Drug Commissioner, told DPA that the findings were welcome, while also indicating that more needed to be done to tackle binge drinking. 

“Reaching adulthood shouldn’t mean that all of the sudden it’s alright to drink too much alcohol”, she said. 

Mortler said education campaigns focusing on a “conscious approach to life” could be used to tackle the issue. 

The study, completed by the Federal Centre for Health Education, was conducted on 7,000 young Germans throughout 2018. 

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