What does fun mean for young people?

With the festive season in full swing, fun is the word on many people’s lips and in many people’s minds.  In a time filled with reports of economic crises, poverty and mindless violence, we need fun to create a happy medium.

I’ve spent some time speaking to a variety of young people, finding out what the word fun means for them and of course, what it is that they actually like to do for fun.  Just as it was with success, fun has different meanings for different people.

In fact, fun is not a priority for some young people – 22-year-old Reyan* spends all her time working or going to university, leaving her with no time for fun.  Adrian, 21, also said: “Nowadays, I rarely ever intentionally do anything for “fun”.  The word to me is the linguistic epitome of frivolity.”

Nevertheless, the main consensus among young people is that fun simply means doing something you enjoy or enjoying what you are doing, although they expressed this in their own various ways.  Garry, 23, described fun as “full enjoyment, whilst 20-year-old, Jesse, described it as enjoying yourself while being able to be yourself.

Fun  is not only enjoying what you do, but it is also the enjoyment of the little things and just life in general.  Jack, 19, puts it into words, saying: “[Fun is] enjoying your life with family and friends, and enjoying the little things.”

One of the major elements of enjoyment among young people seems to be the presence of their friends and family.  “…I just need to be with the right people.  There are people I know I will just have a fun time with,” said 20-year-old Giselle.  Being with loved ones also helps to create lasting memories, which is the meaning of fun for some young individuals.

“Fun is more like happiness,” said 16-year-old Jay*.  There were quite a significant number of young people who said that for them, fun was about being happy or doing something that makes them happy.  Rebecca, 22, illustrates it best: “To me, fun means happiness, joy, peace in my heart, soul and mind.”

Fun is also all about relaxing for some young people – 22-year-old Sana says, “Fun for me is relaxation, unwinding… and ultimately feeling stress free!”  Relaxing is important in a time when young people are facing a lot of pressure, especially for those with constant deadlines or who are always on the grind.  Helen, 23, said: “Fun for me means not having your head consumed with responsibility and deadlines, and just living in the moment.”

In fact, it actually goes deeper than relaxation – it is about them forgetting about their worries, troubles or inhibitions for that moment in time.  It is a way of distracting them from reality.  However, 19-year-old Bright takes it even deeper: “Fun means to me forgetting about the history of yesterday and the mystery of tomorrow, and enjoying the moment that God has allowed you to have.”

A few young individuals also look at fun as embracing their inner child, which brings an innocence to the word.  Nahed, 22, described fun as childishness, while 17-year-old Tia said: “Fun means something that allows me to be childish and have that sense of energy.”

There was also one beautiful, unique response, which stood out from the rest.  Zoey, 22, said: “Fun is very simple to me.  It’s purely freedom of the mind and spirit, in being open to new experiences and viewing life from a happy point of view.”

“When I can’t stop laughing and smiling that’s when I’m having fun,” says Giselle.  It was refreshing – but probably not surprising – to see that fun meant laughter for so many young people, as laughter is usually one of the key ingredients involved in fun.  Nora, 22, expresses it perfectly: “Fun means laughter.  If you’re not laughing, you’re not having fun.”

It was interesting to learn what different individuals do for fun, especially as I began to see some common themes.  Of course, spending time with friends and family is what the majority of young people enjoy doing for fun.  This may be a family gathering, chatting or “banter” with friends, having a drink with their mates, or as 21-year-old Matthew puts it, “hanging with my boys”.

Sports turned out to be popular, mainly amongst the young men, but I was surprised to learn how many of them played basketball – it proved more popular than playing football.  However, it came as no surprise that listening to music and eating (particularly eating out) were popular fun activities amongst young people.

A significant number of young people also enjoy clubbing/partying, being involved in music, going to the cinema, playing games and reading.  Others also like to sleep, watch TV, play video games, keep fit, go shopping and expand their knowledge.  Having a smoke and going on holidays also came up a few times.

However, it was some of the unique answers that were special and provided extra depth to certain young individuals.  For 22-year-old Meera, fun means something as simple as a lie-in, while 21-year-old Aliya* likes “throwing shade” for fun.

Competitive sportsman, Matthew, enjoys winning and proving haters wrong, 21-year-old creative, Si-Ann, loves teaching dance and watching her business grow, whilst 19-year-old aspiring doctor, Danielle, finds fulfilment  in making others happy.  A number of other individuals enjoy bowling, baking brownies and cookies, spreading the gospel, making their parents proud, walking, making their girl smile and riding motorbikes.

This list could go on and on, because there are numerous different things that mean fun for young people, which highlights their versatility and how much they make of what life has to offer.  The vast majority of what was mentioned were simple things that involved people rather than products, showing that fun does not come down to just money.  Paris, 25, sums it up perfectly: “Fun is priceless.”

*names have been changed

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