Are Teenagers in the UK Eco Aware?
Surveys show that most teenagers in the UK think it is good to be environmentally aware and many of them think their generation could do a better job of looking after the world compared to their parents. Having these opinions does not, however, often translate into their actions and teenagers are generally unaware of their use of energy.
There is an almost comical but very true picture of a teenager agreeing taking a positive stand on environmental issues, while using their computer to chat to friends on Facebook, texting other friends, listening to their iPod while sitting in their bedroom with the heating turned up full blast. Every parent of a teenager knows how difficult it is not to sound like their own parents as they rant about the cost of the electricity bill. But 40 years ago, no-one was that eco aware, so today’s teenage generation are locked in a new irony as they move from dependent child to independent young adult.
Encouraging Teenagers to be More Eco awareIt may make many parents feel better to know that working out how to encourage teenagers to be more ecofriendly in their behaviour is something that is the topic of a new 3-year research project involving 5 UK universities. There is no clear and obvious solution to the problem. The project intends to study and survey teenagers in more detail and try to work out how to present information about becoming more eco aware in a way that will appeal and in a way that will have a greater impact than nagging about the thermostat or the lights always being left on.
The scientists involved have already highlighted one problem – teenagers live in homes where they do not pay or even contribute to the household bills. They see electricity and gas-powered heating and lighting as a freely available resource. Perhaps one way to change this is at least to post the amount of money spent on electricity bills and gas bills each month or each quarter on a family notice board. Many teenagers have no idea what heating a house costs. By becoming more aware of that, and then collectively deciding ways to try and reduce it can give teenagers a greater sense of responsibility. If they make some of the decisions and then see the bills going down, that is an incentive to do more – and good experience for when they start to live in their first shared house or flat in a few years time.