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The Scarlet Ink

The Scarlet Ink

The Decline of ‘Third Places’ for Teens


Generations before Gen Z had access to what we call third places, or a place outside of home, work, or school you can hang around at for little to no cost. But, as we continue to urbanize and expand our cities, the art of hanging out begins to wane, and more and more teens lose their access to these places where they can relax and socialize at.

Why are these spaces important for teens? They are important because they help reduce loneliness, which can, in part, be a factor in issues like depression and suicide, which teens are at risk for. These third place settings can also help those who endure social marginalization, as well as those who have a terrible home, work, or school life by creating spaces where they can feel as if they are a part of a community that will keep them safe. Furthermore, they grant teens the ability to feel free, which is important, especially in a society where we push teens into draining 9-5s that focus on productivity rather than the health of their employees.

How can we revive these places? We can start by changing our urban planning. We can do things, such as repurposing existing public spaces to have more communal areas, like providing more benches for sitting in a park, promoting laws that encourage walkable streets, and or incentivising our businesses to help create more public spaces. We, as individuals, can also create these public spaces by hosting events and gatherings with those we know (or even those we don’t), for example, cookouts.

While the decline in third places is still steady, if we continue to try and push against the decline, we’ll eventually be able to claim our right to proper communal areas and promote social health, not only just for teens, but for people of all ages, helping us stay connected and cohesive as a society.

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