The term ‘teenager’ started being used in the 1940s to describe those increasingly outspoken young people who, unlike the youth of previous generations, now often had the benefit of a college education.
Whether well-schooled or not, they certainly had a new set of expectations about what they wanted out of life – largely fuelled by a new breed of aspirational advertising campaigns aimed squarely at their demographic.
Teenagers now either controlled a significant amount of their parents’ disposable income, or earned their own, and the increased spending power of this newly identified group would become a vital spur to the growth of rock ‘n’ roll.
By the middle of the 1960s, teenagers had acquired all the elements of their own culture. It was sharply differentiated from ‘official’ mainstream culture (classical music, ballet, theatre) and from adult popular culture (bars, ballroom dancing, most television, sports), and had its own music, newspapers, magazines, dress, radio stations, television programmes, clubs, concerts, language and leaders.
Admittedly some of these had been kindly supplied by commercially-minded adults, but they had been demanded by the young rather than foisted upon them, and whether in it or out of it, everyone regarded the new ‘youth culture’ as belonging to the teenagers themselves.