A parent's guide to the teen tribes of 2017

 Photo: Getty Images

"Oh, for god's sake," I said to my 15-year-old, reading a story about the latest bizarre internet craze. (I can't quite recall what was involved, but there were injuries and broken tables.) "This is the fault of your generation!"

My daughter looked at me with more than a hint of outrage. "There are many different types of people within my generation," she said indignantly. "And the biggest mistake your generation makes is to lump us all into one group."

It made sense. My generation certainly isn't one homogenous mass, so I guess my kids' generation isn't either.

"So who are these different types of teenagers?" I asked her.

We chatted for a while, and I chatted to some other kids, and I got a bit of a rundown on Teens These Days. Bear in mind, this is my limited understanding; no doubt there are nuances I am far too uncool to understand.

Nerds and intellectuals: They study hard and aim for high marks at school. Not to be mistaken for Geeks.

Geeks: Into comics, video games, TV shows and movies. Passionate about Mario Cart, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Star Wars or similar.

Selfies: The selfie posters, often seen clutching a Starbucks and wearing Ugg boots with leggings. They are frequently mistaken by adults for the whole generation, but in fact are only a very visible portion of the generation. You can often find them in large groups, standing in front of an activity but not actually doing it.

Partiers: They go to all the parties and 'hook up', drink, or take drugs, and brag about it on social media. Again, this is not the entire generation, just another loud and very noticeable group within it.


Introverts: You don't hear much from the introverts as they aren't loud or braggy. They tend to stay at home with blankets over their heads, watching Tumblr or Netflix or YouTube. They are frequently considered to be lazy or procrastinators. Sometimes this is true.

Sports people: They love sport, train a lot, and are very competitive. They meet society's expectation that kids should play sport to be healthy (which is true, but not every kid likes sport).

Vegans: The hipster teens who make their diet your business, loudly describing the contents of their beverages before drinking them. They may try to convert you to veganism, or, occasionally, hate on you for eating meat.

Twelvies: Geeks in training, these pre-teens are loud and annoying and obsessed with memes.

After all this research, I was left with just one question. What's a meme? I thought a meme was just a picture with words on it, but it has evolved into something different. "Such a meme!" I'll hear my son say, or "That's a great meme" – and he's not looking at anything!

"Memes have become the heart of the internet culture," my daughter explained patiently. "They're like an inside joke."

"But I don't understand!" I wailed. "What does the joke mean?"

She smiled, just a tad patronisingly. "Don't try to understand, Mum," she said. "It's far too complex for you."

There may be several groups within the younger generation ... but I suspect all of them would have given me the very same answer.