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Young Cambodians and their focus on material things

Young Cambodians and their focus on material things


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The wedding season is coming up and that’s a time when young people show off their materialistic purchases. Teenagers like show off their expensive and up-to-date mobile phones and cars, and jewellery.

Young people from rich families may not really care how much they spend on material things since they have so much money, even though they don’t have a job.

“I don’t really think of the price. I just find what I need on an every day basis,” says Mora (who asked us not to reveal his real name). He has an iPad and and iPod. “I use my iPad not only for calls but also for email and to read news online and many other things.”

Whatever their income, people want best products. In the mobile-phone market, Chinese phones are popular with teenagers because they are so cheap and have many of the functions which the more expensive models have.   

Sun Ratanak, 21, a student at the Royal University of Law and Economics, says she likes using a Chinese phone, though she knows that it might be up-to-date for long.

“It is cheap in terms of price and the programs are the same as the original versions. Therefore, I can save money and change to a new model,” Sun Ratanak says. “I focus more on up-to-date things, though I can only use them for a short period.”

Having friends who are materialistic can be a problem. Those people say up-to-date things make them feel confident. Young people with low self esteem are especially susceptible to materialism in the media.

Nong Chanmono, 17, a high school student in Phnom Penh capital says that most of his friends already have modern motorbikes. So, he prefers to walk, because his mother won’t buy him a modern one.

“My friends all have modern ones. So, I need to get one as well. If I don’t, how can we get along together? I’d look very uncool on another type of bike.” Nong Chanmono says, “I want a Scoop or a Dream 2012 since they look cool on the TV advertisements. I have already asked my Mum for one.”

Some materialistic people not only waste their money but also misuse their time when they should be studying

Ouk Socheata, a former student from Wat Koh high school says: “When I was in high school, I saw some students who ignored their lessons. They used study hours to ride around and show off in their late model motorbikes”

Because their family’s income may be limited, some materialistic may resort to desperate measures to fulfill their desires, such as stealing or robbing. Some even commit suicide.

According to Koh Santepheap Daily on Nov 12th, 2011, a 17-year-old girl from Pailin province committed suicide because she was disappointed with her parents for not buying her a motorbike.

Choun Try, a psychology professor at Royal University of Phnom Penh says young people should use new and advanced technology in a positive way. “If they become materialistic, they will destroy themselves, their family as well as society,” Choun Try says.

He added that young people are affected by the messages they get from advertisements. He says the media play an important role in educating young people in not being materialistic but the messages in advertisements can be more persuasive.

Parents are crucial in preventing children from being materialistic and must give good advice and support and monitor their children’s studies and not spoil them. Young people should value their studies, since studying is very important for their future. They should be careful who they choose as their friends.

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