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King Edward VI School student Alex Barnes, 17, feels young people today are missing out on carefree teenage years

Do you remember those blissful summer holidays as a child, when you would play with your friends and take trips to the seaside or get an ice cream from the van with your piggy bank change? Because I do. But now I am stuck planning ahead so much I never get to enjoy what is right there in front of me.

It’s January… exams are in April and already I am planning every hour, sleep has become a luxury instead of a necessity, and friends? Who are they?

Society says everyone has had to do it. It’s like we all must read the same book, even the same chapter, just with a different publishing date. I wonder, though, if my generation might just be paying a higher price for the privilege.

'We don't get to live for the moment any more' (6787941)
'We don't get to live for the moment any more' (6787941)

It is my contention that we are told to think so much about our futures that it is driving us mad. We don’t get to live for the moment anymore. It’s like we are attempting a marathon before we can even stand. The word ‘teenager’ is linked to adolescence, which is part of growing up, but why call us teenagers if we don’t have the time to grow up anymore?

In the films, teens fall in love, escape into the mercy of the night and have the best time ever. They don’t spend all their time being battered over the head with assessments. Or am I just in a different world?

Psychologists have discovered that teen stress is higher than that in adults – so why is nobody combating it? Where are those inbetweeners days of sneaking out with your friends, having a laugh and for once not caring about the ever-increasing homework or the university shortlist on your bedroom cabinet?

The government has made GCSEs and A-levels exam-based again, making two years of work boil down to the chance of having a good day and an even better memory.

Just because the education system worked like this when the middle-aged decision-makers were at school decades ago, does not make it fit for purpose in this century. Final exams combined with the modern obsession with grades is a recipe for far greater stress.

So, I say we should take a stand against it. I would like to grow up with memories, not regrets. Why don’t we go back to the time when teens could be teens, rather than having to obsess about a target grade set by someone else?

“Life is like that. You better get used to it,” is no argument. That’s like saying: “The rest of your life will be rubbish – might as well start at school!”

According to psychologists, teenage anxiety and stress-induced depression has increased by 70 per cent in 25 years. I am not suggesting we should go off the rails for the heck of it, but living for the moment and learning through mistakes has to have a place.

We are too locked into this idea that the next piece of paper is the most important thing that will ever happen to us – and is that really the case?

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