Money, money, must be funny

Money, money, must be funny

A new poll finds that most Hong Kong youngsters see having lots of cash as the main cause of happiness

Hanging out with friends is great. So is going on holiday. But when it comes to being happy, the best thing of all is - drum roll please! - having lots of cash for hi-tech gadgets and fancy stuff.

That's according to, well, most of you. A recent survey by Tuen Mun Town Plaza has found that young people in Hong Kong place money at the top of their happiness list.

A Youth Happiness index survey surveyed 617 young Hong Kong residents, aged 15 to 24, in October and November. During street interviews, researchers asked them how happy they thought they had been in 2010 on a scale of one to 10.

On average interviewees scored 6.94 points, which indicates many youngsters are content with their lives. And four out of five think they will be happier still in three years' time. This indicates a healthy positive outlook among them.

Somewhat less happily, though, when asked what would make them the happiest, most respondents said it was money - and lots and lots of it.

Choy Ho-lun, project co-ordinator of school services for the NGO Hok Yau Club, says it is inevitable for teens to value money in a materialistic and highly commercialised society.

"In Hong Kong, it is common for people to show off their wealth with brand-name bags, watches and other fancy products," he said. "Owning these products is seen as a sign of success and prosperity. Children witness this attitude daily and they develop a strong desire to have enough money to go shopping for expensive brand-name goods."

Choy says it's hard for youngsters to resist social trends. Parents and teachers will need to pay more attention to educating their children on the importance of moral values to wean them off purely money-oriented dreams.

Cherry Lau Cheuk-lam, a Year Two student majoring in Human Resources Management at Hong Kong Baptist University, agrees.

She thinks young people are mistaken if they value money just so that they can show off their brand-name products. "Most families can afford school fees, but many students need to bear the costs of going to exchange programmes and extra-curricular activities," she says.

"This is even more the case for tertiary education students who don't want to depend on our family as we are no longer children." Getting a good education should trump fashion fads, she added.

Lam Tsz-kwan, who is a first-year student of social work at Shue Yan University, believes the joy of buying expensive gadgets and brand-name fashion accessories on shopping sprees is short-lived.

"Young people may feel happy when they buy new stuff, but only for a short period of time," she says. "After that, they need to search for new products to buy and feel happy again. I like shopping too. Everyone enjoys a degree of materialism. The key is to keep a balance. What should make you really happy is to find the right balance between your studies, work and family."

In the study respondents said money was more important than good relationships with friends. On third and fourth place they ranked vacation and good relations with family as things that make them happy.

Choy says the survey's findings indicate parents and teachers need to pay more attention to educating young people properly.



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