The 'Hidden Youth' Phenomenon

The 'Hidden Youth' Phenomenon

Issued: Wed, 27 Jun 2018 14:31:00 BST

Dr Mark Wong has recently produced a piece of research on 'Hidden Youth: A Critical Study of Socially Disengaged Young People in Hong Kong and Scotland.' The study focused on young people who physically shut themselves in the bedroom and do not go outside for months and years on end. These young people are commonly referred to as 'hidden youth' in East Asia, and it has emerged as a topical social issue across the region in the last decade. Mark’s work was the first research on this topic in Scotland and in the UK, and emphasises the importance of new types of online interactions for young people growing up in the digital age. 

The research demonstrates that some young people become especially attached to online interactions in the bedroom as a consequence of feeling marginalised and 'pushed out' by society. Feeling stuck in low-skill, low-paid, short term jobs and zero-hour contracts has made some young people feel negatively about their futures. This then leads to young people hiding away in their bedrooms and communicating with people using online platforms, even with parents and family members they live with, as a reaction to feeling alienated and marginalised in society. 

Mark commented that 'this highlights the wider implication that the use of digital technologies have become especially important and complex for the younger generation today, more so than the experiences of growing up of the past generations, especially for those who feel marginalied and excluded.' 

The research suggests that policy-makers and youth practitioners should think more about the changing experiences of growing up, and not see the reliance on technology as a bad behaviour, but a resource to connect with young people. On a wider scale, the research also turns the spotlight on the kind of society which makes young people feel so pushed to the limit and that there is a lack of opportunities. Short-term and temporary employment and training opportunities need to be looked at and there should also be a stop to young people being labelled idle or irresponsible. 

Mark has also been interviewed extensively about his research on radio and print. 

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