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A mum's guide to teenage subcultures

By Jo McKinnon Emo and hip-hop, goth, gamers and punk — there's a raft of teen subcultures out there. If you're feeling a little out of touch and confused by it all, here's a quick guide to understanding today's kids. Emo is the teen movement that's grabbing the headlines, but it's just one of many scenes on the go. Hip-hop is huge, punk is back and gamers are still refusing to come out of their rooms! These trends can leave a lot of parents scratching their heads and wondering what on earth it's all about. Dr Paula Geldens, a lecturer in sociology at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, says it isn't about annoying your parents. "I don't think that 'freaking parents out' is a primary motivation at all … It may just be a satisfying by-product of affiliating yourself to a group. For young people today, as throughout history, having a group of friends who 'get you' is more important than freaking out your parents," she says. Self-expression and identity are big concerns for adolescents. How you have fun and how you dress are all part of defining who you are. And not conforming to the mainstream always has its appeal. The Internet, too, has brought big changes. It's a valuable connection for kids in more isolated areas who might differ from the local 'norm', as they can use it to get in touch with like-minded people. Even in city areas, teens may develop or strengthen social connections using online forums and chatrooms, rather than meeting face to face. Probably the biggest difference in teen scenes today is how fluid they are. Many kids are happy dabbling with a scene, changing their look from weekday to weekend, and shifting through subcultures as they want.

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