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Kids say the darndest things

Survey: Ripon teens want to eat & be entertained

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Kids say the darndest things

Curt Pernice Skate Park is a popular hangout with Ripon teens.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED January 22, 2013 11:26 p.m.

Ripon’s teenagers have spoken, and the general consensus is …

They’re hungry.

And bored.

On Friday, The Bulletin conducted an informal survey of 50 teenagers during the lunchtime rush at Pizza Plus, along Main Street.

It’s a small sample size, no doubt, but the answers might help the leadership in town better understand its youngest demographic.

After all, isn’t that all they want – to be heard, to be understood?

For full disclosure, here’s what we know about the baby faced, fun-loving crowd that turned Pizza Plus upside down:

One, they all hailed from Ripon High, and they ranged in age from 14- to 18-year-olds.

Two, it was an eclectic bunch, with an equal balance of boys and girls. Based on their answers alone, there was a nice blend of the outgoing and opinionated, ambivalent and downright funny.

Three, they were on the clock, which meant their answers had to come quick and without much thought. Take that for what you will, but I tend to believe instinct is wrapped in truth and honesty.

So now that you’ve met the participants, let’s get on with the show – Kids Say the Darndest Things.

Here’s a look at where Ripon’s teens hang out, what they crave, and in most cases are willing to go great lengths to get:

• Looking for your teen? Follow the growl of their stomachs.

Chances are you’ll find him or her munching on pizza or a Big Mac, sharing a basket of tortilla chips, or engaging in conversation over a pastry and latte.

Our teens are foodies – fast-foodies, to be exact.

Fifty-six teenagers listed a restaurant of some sort in their list of top-5 hangouts. Of those 56, 45 were fast food restaurants.

Pizza Plus appeared on half of the ballots, easily the most popular of all destinations for this particular set of teens. McDonald’s was a distant second, appearing on less than 10 percent of all ballots.

The other notables included Taco Bell and Carl’s Jr.

They’re hungry for more, too. Panda Express and In-N-Out were the most popular answers when polled for a new hangout.

•Shred, study, shoot and stroll.

Teens appear to be putting community resources to good use in their free time.

Thirty-eight percent said they frequent Ripon’s parks, with Curt Pernice Skate Park, Mavis Stouffer Park and Mistlin Sports Complex topping that category.

School and school-related activities (read: football and basketball games) were high on their lists, as well.

•Still, Ripon teens are finding fun – and spending their money – outside city limits.

Wrote one teen: “We teens often find ourselves in Modesto for the mall, or Manteca for the movie theatre.”

They long for in-town entertainment, a quick-and-comfortable outlet that doesn’t involve pizza or parks. Think: roller rink, under-18 dance club, laser tag, bowling alley, an arcade and more shopping.

•What makes a quality hangout, besides the food?

Here are their demands:

Free Wi-Fi: The ability to surf the Web, download music, watch YouTube Facebook and Instagram without delay, buffer or charge.

Service: In general, teens want to feel like they’re being taken seriously by their family, friends and by the staff of the businesses they frequent. Treat them well or live in fear of a Yelp rant.

Clean: Go figure, they like their rooms messy but their hangouts clean.

Music: Teens like their hangouts like they like their music and clothing – loud.

After spending most of their day tight-lipped and volume-controlled in the classroom, they enjoy hangouts that play music over head and allow them to talk loud enough to be, well…

Heard.

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