The adolescents of today are often exposed to a more materialistic mindset, than the previous generations. They feel the need to concede to society’s conception of what “ successful is”, which often fosters a need for objects of monetary value. The external influences that youth are subjected to often dictate their mindset. Peer pressure, social media trends and promotional advertisements mold their perception of what prosperity is, and makes their “wants” a priority over their “needs”. In a recent study, psychologists followed Icelanders weathering their country's economic collapse. Some people became more focused on materialism, in the hope of regaining lost ground. Adolescents, often trying to discover who they are, are easily vulnerable and impressionable to their surroundings. Similar to the Icelanders, envy, lack of self-esteem, and insecurities can often manifest into youth seeking solace in materialistic objects.
“Compared to previous generations, recent high school graduates are more likely to want lots of money and nice things, but less likely to say they’re willing to work hard to earn them,” said Twenge, author of the book “Generation Me.” Some new insight was gained from their nationally representative survey of 355,000 U.S. high school seniors from 1976 to 2007. The survey examines the materialistic values of three generations with inquiries focused on the perceived importance of an abundance of money. The survey redeems that 62% of recent high school students are more materialistic, and 39% of them admitted they did not want to work hard for these “valuable” possessions. 1
71% of teenagers also believed that money was the key to their success and happiness. 2 However, research has informed us that this is simply not true. The adoption of materialism fosters a sense of greed and loneliness. It beckons you to ask for more than what you need, and will never be able to quench your void. The research by the Journal of Consumer Research of 2500 people illiterates this point. The results inform us of the relationship between materialism and loneliness.3 Psychological Science also found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, and subsequently followed with anxiety and depression.4
Contradicting popular beliefs, materialistic objects can not provide a sense of consolation, but instead manipulates your perception of happiness, and can often result in feeling unsatisfactory and lonely.A recent study included putting adolescents through a church program designed to steer children away from spending money and towards sharing and saving instead. The self-esteem of non-materialistic children in the program rose significantly, while that of materialistic children in the control group fell.5 By not being persuaded by the materialism’s cruel allure, you can learn to find satisfaction, prosperity, and happiness through other sources.
For instance, writing down what you are grateful for is an important method of grounding yourself, and turning “what you have” into “enough”. Following mindfulness practices and breathing exercises, are a few other similar methods. Taking time in your day to replenish your mind and body, validates your self-esteem and confidence. You feel worthy of love and care, as you direct your time and effort towards taking care of yourself. These few simple methods can stimulate feelings of satisfaction and positivity, as you realize that you are already equipped with the tools necessary to generate your happiness. You will no longer need to resort to materialistic objects as a source of joy or subject yourself to feelings of inadequacy, depression, or loneliness that comes along with it.