Teenagers' Lives Limited By Adult Constraints

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2nd December 2009, 09:30am - Views: 723






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Media Release


Educating Professionals • Creating and Applying Knowledge • Engaging our Communities



December 2 2009


Teenagers’ lives limited by adult constraints


Teenagers in suburban Australia are living their lives within the constraints of adult space and time,

according to new research from the University of South Australia.


The ‘Mobility, Mothers and Malls’ report investigates how home, community, school, teenage work and

adult work all affect opportunity for teenagers in the suburbs. It was part of the four-year Work, Home

and Community Project by UniSA’s Centre for Work + Life, to be launched today by Deputy Prime

Minister Julia Gillard.


Project Manager Dr Pip Williams said how teenagers are accommodated by home, local community and

parental work affects not only their well-being but the well-being of their family and the wider community.


“What teenagers do, how they do it, when they do it and who they do it with sits within, and sometimes

butts up against, the spatial and temporal realities of their parents and other adults in their

communities,” she said.


One hundred and seventy-four boys and girls aged between 11 and 18 years took part in focus groups

with Dr Williams and her colleagues. The teenagers were from public and private schools servicing

three master-planned communities and three traditional lower socio-economic status suburbs in South

Australia, Victoria and Queensland.


Among the findings are:


Incompatible schedules between teenagers and their parents results in reduced access to

activities and friends and a perception that they are missing out.


Homework is considered excessive in senior high school and a number of teenagers describe

daily schedules that leave them exhausted and with little time to interact with family or friends.


School location is significant in terms of the demands and resources placed on the teenager,

their family and the community. Local schools minimise demands of travel and maximise social

interaction with peers and other members of the local community.


Teenagers want more understanding about demands of school, home and paid work and also

want to see more convenient scheduling of these conflicting activities, such as more

consolidation of homework into school time.


Teenagers regardless of age or socio-economic background often feel marginalised in their

local communities.


An absence of appropriate amenity coupled with poor public transport systems leave the vast

majority of teenagers complaining of ‘nothing to do’.


Dr Williams said teenagers from homes with fewer amenity and mobility resources relied on adequate

community resources to gain access to opportunity. However, communities with a large proportion of

disadvantaged households often lacked these resources.


“Teenagers from better resourced homes are less reliant on community resources, but this comes at a

cost,” she said.


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“This includes mothers having to make sacrifices in relation to their career to be available to their

children. There’s also the trend to withdraw children from under resourced local public schools in favour

of private schooling outside the area, which means teenagers forgo social connection with their

community, and communities and schools lose well resourced families from the social milieu which

erodes social capital.”


Dr Williams said the research had clear implications for policy and action.


“This research suggests that specific actions by governments at all levels, employers, planners, service

providers, schools, parents and teenagers can result in better outcomes for teenagers in our

communities,” she said.


“Action should focus on increasing resources available in the homes and residential communities of

teenagers, particularly teenagers from lower socioeconomic areas, and reducing demands on teenagers

and their parents that are associated with adult work and transport infrastructure in particular.”



Contact for interview:

Dr Pip Williams mobile 0423 298 685


Media contact: 

Kelly Stone office (08) 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au







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