Youth as a category for research
what do I mean by “youth”?
While “youth” seemed too broad a descriptor>>> find a term that properly captured the cohort of our study.
boyd rejected “students” for three reasons. She explains : "(1) not all high school–age youth are students; (2) not all students are high-school age; and (3) I did not want a term that referenced a role to a system that I was not studying. The legal concept of “minor” puts youth in relation to adults while also failing to accurately describe the population. “Children” is problematic for the same reasons. The term “adolescent” is often used to negate youth agency by suggesting that they are at an immature psychological stage at which they cannot be trusted to make decisions."
Barrie Thorne (1993) conscientiously opted to use the term “kids” because that was the language her informants used. I decided against this term because it is not native to high school–age youth and because it typically signifies a population younger than the cohort I was studying.
I finally decided to use the term “teenager” or “teen.” While technically not all teenagers are of high-school age, most are. The term certainly has its problems—not the least of which have to do with the evolution of this term as a marketing construct in the 1940s (Hine 1999)—but more than any other term, I thought “teenager” encapsulated the population I was observing.