Page last updated at 00:28 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Poll dispels 'lazy teenager' myth

Harry Enfield as Kevin, the teenager
Harry Enfield's Kevin portrayed teenagers as lazy and moody

The majority of teenagers would prefer to use their free time constructively rather than just "hang about", a new government survey has suggested.

The poll of about 3,700 teenagers found 72% would prefer to play football, visit the gym or attend a youth club.

However, four out of five said there is not enough for them to do in their local communities.

The government said the survey put paid to the negative portrayal of teenagers as lazy.

The nationwide Teen Talk poll of 16 to 19-year-olds was carried out using text message, and was conducted on behalf of the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) by mobile network Blyk.

'Bad press'

Football, dance, gym, music and swimming were among the most popular activities teenagers wanted to take part in, and they were also keen to volunteer for community work.

But 90% of those polled admitted spending too much time hanging out at home or with friends due to lack of opportunities in their local area.

The survey puts paid to the all too familiar portrayal of them as only being interested in hanging around on the streets or playing computer games
Young people's minister Beverley Hughes

Almost one in 10 already use part of their leisure time for part-time jobs, with a further 16% keen to do the same.

Kieron Richardson, who stars in the Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks and is backing the survey, said: "It's frustrating to see this country's young people getting such a bad press all the time.

"The majority of teens want to use their free time constructively and it's vital they are given the chance to do that."

The Teen Talk survey forms part of Aiming High for Young People, the DCSF's 10 year strategy to increase participation in positive activities.

It also includes a Directgov website where teenagers and parents can find information about events and activities in their local area.

Minister for Children, Young People and Families Beverley Hughes said it was "extremely important" to listen to what teenagers were saying.

"The Teen Talk survey puts paid to the all too familiar portrayal of them as only being interested in hanging around on the streets or playing computer games.

"Through Aiming High for Young People and the work of the Youth Taskforce, we are investing a total of 679 million in creating opportunities for young people to follow their interests."

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