Lifestyle: How to get your teenage clicks!

PUBLISHED: 12:28 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

TEENAGERS are notoriously hot headed, sullen, reluctant to communicate and living in a highly secretive world. The formative years that turn a child into an adult can be difficult for everyone. Parents often find it hard to deal with their troublesome tee

TEENAGERS are notoriously hot headed, sullen, reluctant to communicate and living in a highly secretive world. The formative years that turn a child into an adult can be difficult for everyone.

Parents often find it hard to deal with their troublesome teens and the teenager finds life has suddenly become confusing and seemingly out of control. Emotions and hormones are running into overdrive and it's a time of high anxiety for all concerned. Now a website designed by teenagers for teenagers is proving a hit with the youngsters of East Cambridgeshire and providing answers to the questions they want to ask but are often too embarrassed. They have found a virtual meeting place where they can find information and talk about their problems anonymously - and contribute on-line.

LESLEY INNES looks at the Youthoria website and its new on-line soap opera tackling controversial issues such as bullying and racism.

TEENAGERS spend much of their time in an in-between world, longing to be grown up but often finding the demands of adulthood just too much too soon.

It can be a highly confusing time as they are bombarded by peer pressure and demands from the family to "fit in".

When worries hit it's difficult to find the answers. If your friends can't help and it's just too embarrassing to speak to a complete stranger, where do you turn?

Now teenagers are finding the answers on a Cambridgeshire website designed by them for them.

Youthoria handles all the questions that teens want answered but perhaps are just too frightened to ask.

It's been put together for 13 to 19-year-olds but pre-teens as young as 11 are finding it a fun and informative place to visit.

The website has just introduced an on-line soap, called Real Stuff, in the form of a storyboard designed by teenagers to tackle controversial issues.

In the very first episode they tackle the problem of bullying and provide information about what to do if you find yourself a victim of the bullies.

Drugs, drink, sexual health, mental health, keeping fit - they're all covered on the website with links and useful contacts to find further information.

There's even an agony aunt who covers the full range of teenage problems and youngsters can write openly - and more importantly anonymously - about anything worrying them and receive frank and honest answers.

Mepal part-time youth worker, Leanne Webb, who works with youngsters at the village youth club said: "It's a great website. It's a fun learning tool and we often pull something off the website and use it as the basis for discussion.

"The information is all there in one place. There are quizzes and competitions and the youngsters bought the wristbands carrying the details of the youthoria website. It has very broad appeal for children as young as 11 right through to the older age groups.

"For me as a youth worker I can see what questions the children are asking and they are very intelligent.

"A lot of teenagers I have spoken to are just too embarrassed to call up a particular service and tell people about their problems. But on the website they can look at other people's answers and know they can ask their questions anonymously. It's a very easy website to work with."

East Cambridgeshire youngsters have also become skilled at winning shopping vouchers in the competitions after prizes were awarded recently to youth club members in Mepal and Sutton.

The website was launched three years ago and now the search is on for would-be journalists, photographers and web designers who would like to contribute with news from their areas.

Youthoria project manager and website designer, Derek Budd, who is also a youth worker, said: "We are trying to extend the website all the time and now we are looking to recruit teenagers who want to have their own pages on the site about local things that are happening in their areas.

"We are also planning to organise for the young people to run their own radio station through the site.

"If there is a group of people in a particular youth club, organisation or school who want to chat to another group in the county we can make that happen on the site. The more people that find out about the site, the more that get involved."

Visit the Youthoria website at www.youthoria.org.

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