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The Teens' Speech


On Christmas Day this year, teenage Britain delivered its own message to the nation. Find out more

The optimism gene

Which of these describe Christmas with your family (tick all that apply)

In the latest of our findings, it seems that the overwhelming majority of teenagers are looking forward to Christmas with a real sense of optimism. But, rather than being a product of our upbringing, is having an optimistic outlook a genetic predisposition?

Writing in the acclaimed research periodical, Proceedings of the Royal Society, psychologists claim to have identified an optimism gene.

"We've shown for the first time that a genetic variation is linked with a tendency to look on the bright side of life," says Elaine Fox of the University of Essex. "This is a key mechanism underlying resilience to general life stress."

This kind of research worries me. And depresses me. And fills me with pessimism.

Because, if it's all genetically predetermined, then how can we change? Or, to put it another way, what's the point in trying? Or, to put it another way, rather than being the conclusion of a reasoned argument, drawing upon my experience and understanding of the world, am I actually genetically obliged to reject this research and write this post?


In another study by scientists - this time from the Max Planck (love that name) Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, research indicates that making a decision may be a process handled to a large extent by unconscious mental activity. Even several seconds before we consciously make a decision its outcome can be predicted from unconscious activity in the brain.

Oh joy. My consciousness, that complex, beautiful sum of all knowledge and experience has nothing to do with the decision to be happy or optimistic - my brain has already done it for me.

So, when I say Merry Christmas, it's not because of the mince pies, or the fine wine, or seeing my daughter's face when she opens her gifts or watching The Teens' Speech on MySpace (you see what I did there). Its all down to my deoxyribonucleic acid.

It reminds me of that moment in The Phantom Menace, when The Force stopped being something that any of us could commune with and instead was dependent on stuff completely out of our control, some weird symbiotic organism called Midichlorians.

Talk about taking the fun out of everything.

All I Want For Christmas

Do you worry about debt in the run up to Christmas?

If, like 44% of teenagers, you're feeling a little light this Christmas, then why not spare a thought for that malfunctioning corporation, The United Kingdom?

Estimates of the national debt level range from a cool £800 billion to a cheek sucking £1,340 billion. Estimates of our personal share of this start at £13,000 and ascend infinitely at a 90-degree angle.

But, worry not, there is a way we can help. A way in which we can collectively wrap our warm and comforting arms around the quivering future of this country and hold it to our nurturing breast.

It's called the 'Whittle Down the National Debt' initiative and is being billed as "a wonderful present for children and grandchildren".

All monies go to Her Majesty's Treasury to help reduce the national debt.

Imagine explaining the concept of deferred gratification in perpetuity as you look into the innocent and questioning eyes of a brutally betrayed toddler this Christmas.

Making something of love

Do you have to be in love to have sex?

In the latest in our series of online polls, we asked visitors to The Teens' Speech MySpace page if they thought love was a precondition to having sex.

Nearly 75% said it wasn't, leaving just over 25% of hardcore romantics who maintained it was.

In a year that has seen teenage pregnancies increase for the first time in seven years, does being in love make us more responsible lovers? Could good old-fashioned romantic love actually be of lasting social benefit?

It's not a new concept - love underpins Christian notions of social justice and love was considered so potent in the hands of John Lennon, he was apparently targetted by both the FBI and CIA.

We asked our friends how often they took drugs

Every day we are running a quick and very dirty poll on MySpace, designed to be thought-provoking, conversation-starting and a little bit revealing.

Last week, we asked visitors to MySpace how often they took drugs. Out of a poll sample of 200 people, 43% claimed to be entirely drug free, a noteworthy 57% polled that they had taken drugs at least once or twice a year and over 14% revealed they took drugs on a daily basis.

Of course, this poll is not scientific - but, it does reflect that drugs-related issues are a big concern to teenagers. They are feeling an unprecedented level of stress - about school, fitting in, looking good and being liked.

Clearly, drinking and taking drugs are an easy, readily available and highly effective means of relieving the pressure.

If you're aged 13-19 and want to get involved in The Teens' Speech - by answering polls, uploading a video or just adding a comment - visit our MySpace page or YouTube channel.

You thought teenagers didn't get on with their parents, our survey said...

Do you think your parents believe in you?

What did noted psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, say about the family? That it was a social institution based entirely on self-interest and lying? Well, these stats debunk that particular chesnut of anti-psychiatry.

In a recent poll conducted by The Teens' Speech, a massive 88% of young people aged between 13-19 said their parents believed in them.

This paints a surprisingly positive picture of the U.K. and one that completely contradicts UNICEF's Child Poverty Report, which put the children of the United Kingdom 17th out of 21 countries in terms of their family and peer relationships and 17th out of 21 in respect of educational well-being.