DO our youngsters grow up too quickly these days?

Are they under pressure to become worldly wise, mini-adults at too young an age?

I pose these questions after reading an article in the Northwich Guardian and then, quite remarkably, watching the X Factor at the weekend.

The Guardian story was about plans to launch a nightclub for 13 to 16-year-olds at the Witton Albion Social Club.

Event organiser Noel Gallagher said: “We thought about doing just a kids disco but then this has quickly morphed into the full nightclub experience.

“Young people these days wouldn’t be up for a junior disco.

“We have all the equipment to fit it out so we thought ‘why not’?

“We turn the function room at Witton Albion into nothing short of a fitted out nightclub with huge lighting and sound, nightclub DJs, door staff and wristbands – the only difference being the drinks served are all soft drinks and non alcoholic cocktails and the guests are all of secondary school age with the target age being on 13 to 16 year olds.”

A full nightclub experience for 13 year olds?


Is that what we want for our kids? It sounds almost like a training course for a dissolute lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against people running events for youngsters.

I’ve not even got anything against Witton Albion and Noel Gallagher making money out of it, if indeed they do.

But I am concerned about the signals this sends out. Is this the full extent of the range of ambitions for our children?

I sincerely hope not.

And why, exactly, would they not be content with a disco? I’d like an explanation why the town’s 13 year olds need the full Ibiza superclub treatment.

But how can I criticise Mr Gallagher for exposing young people to adult experiences when the X Factor is doing exactly the same thing?

Not content with accepting entrants aged 16, this year the programme has dropped the age limit back down to 14.

How on earth can that be right?

Yes, there are some very mature 14-year-olds out there but for goodness sake, they are children.

The pressure of appearing on a show like the X Factor could break a grown man, goodness what effects it has on children.

And according to the Daily Mail, I’m not the only one who thinks children shouldn’t be on the show.

The Daily Mail reported former judge Gary Barlow was highly critical of 16-year-olds being allowed to compete and said it is still too young to be on the talent show.

“Sixteen is just too young to be in this competition with this kind of pressure,” he told contestant Luke Lucas back in 2011 at the judges’ houses stage.

If 16 is too young, then 14 certainly is.

Sadly, the pressures on our children don’t just come from the world of entertainment (if you can call a teenage ‘night club’ at Witton Albion the world of entertainment).

Tim Gill, a childhood play consultant, reported in the Daily Telegraph, believes that contemporary pressures, combined with the way we now raise and educate our children, is leaving many unable to cope.

For him, it’s time to go back to basics – freedom to play, to explore and to make mistakes: “I think back to my own childhood, when my generation roamed far and wide.

But today’s children are not free-ranged – they’re battery-reared,” he said. And the effects of that ‘battery-rearing’ are really worrying. What age, do you think, today’s youngsters start worrying about body image? When do they start dieting?

It takes a lot to shock me but I was truly appalled when I found out by the age of 10, research shows, one in five boys and one in three girls does not like the way they look.

And incredibly, 10 is the average age children start dieting.

Faced with an absolute tidal wave of advertising in all media, it’s little wonder that today’s youngsters feel under massive pressure to conform to an unrealistic, computer generated, airbrushed ideal.

I wonder just how parents deal with this.

Apparently, it has become such a problem, I understand that schools in some parts of the country have introduced ‘body image’ classes in an attempt to educate youngsters about the tricks of the advertising trade while others have had to resort to holding ‘happiness and wellbeing’ classes.

To be honest, I’m just glad that my children are all grown up and I don’t have to worry about problems like that.

But there is one thing I do know if I was a parent of a 14-year-old, I would be thinking long and hard before I let any child of mine enter the X Factor, or go to a teenage nightclub, for that matter.