Many tempting distractions

I TOTALLY agree with the last sentence of the letter written by S. Ma (South China Morning Post, September 16).

What we are able to achieve in the future depends on what we do now. The academic performance of students in Hong Kong is declining.

It can be attributed to the fact that there are so many different forms of entertainment which distract students from their studies. For instance, it is not uncommon to see teenagers, especially girls, waiting outside a television station for their pop and film idols.

They recklessly spend a lot of money buying them bouquets to give to these people. Some of them hang around the TV stations for hours just in the hope of catching a sight or getting an autograph.

They buy compact discs and pin-up pictures and they memorise the pop stars' songs.

While still not mature, many young people, influenced by what they see on television, in the cinema and what they read in magazines, become involved in romantic relationships. You see couples as young as 14 walking hand in hand.

It is no coincidence that along with these trends, we see a rise in the number of teenage pregnancies and teenage suicides.

Although there is no easy solution to these problems, something can be done to guide teenagers back on the right track.

Pop stars should encourage their fans to spend more time studying.

Some claim to do so, but they only pay lip service to this advice.

On the one hand, they tell their fans to work hard and not to buy them bouquets of flowers at concerts. On the other hand, they gladly take these bouquets and then let the fans wait for them after the concert.

It is important for the mass media not to glamorise or distort, but to convey the right message and try to help young people deal sensibly with relationships.

By the year 2001, there will be a surplus of university graduates. Competition on the job market will be severe. How can we expect, as adults, to compete successfully in this market and enjoy a high standard of living, if we do not 'equip' ourselves and study harder while we are young? I would urge all students to put a greater effort into their studies.

Johnny Cheung, Wan Chai