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Child of Our Time 16

In the year 2000 the BBC began filming the lives of 25 children born across the UK.  As they turn 16, Professor Robert Winston and Professor Tanya Byron discover how they are being affected by huge changes in their brains and behaviour that could shape their lives forever.

  • Updated Tuesday 11th April 2017
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Sir Robert Winston with some of the children from the series Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The BBC In 2000 the BBC embarked on a ground-breaking project to follow the lives of 25 of the millennium’s first British babies.  At 16, these children of our time are almost fully grown.  They are now free to live by themselves, have sex, get married, pay taxes and even have children of their own.

In this two part series, BBC1 finds out what it really means to be a 16 year old in the 21st century.   It’s an age where everything is changing - our teenagers may look grown up, but their brains are still being shaped as they step out into a world changing faster than at any time since the 1960s.  So what is determining the adults they are becoming?  To what extent are they influenced by their biology, their upbringing or the changing world around them?

Over the last 16 years we’ve seen our children face many challenges from disease, to divorce and family death.  As each teenager now embarks on one of the most profound transformations of their lives, we see how the experiences of their childhood are guiding them through their first steps into adulthood. 

With surprising new research in neuroscience we reveal many aspects of teenage life can be explained by the latest understanding of the changing teenage brain.  The brains of our 16 year olds are wired to feel more self-conscious, to be more mentally creative, and to feel more intense pleasure, than at any other time in their lives. 

But it’s not just our children's brains that are changing. Since they were born 16 years ago the very nature of family life and society has transformed.  To find out how growing up in the modern, digital world is shaping them, the Child of Our Time teenagers gave us unfettered  access to their phones. In our unique experiment we reveal what are 16 year olds are up to online, and what impact 24/7 media engagement has on their sleep, their stress levels, and their growing social skills. 

Through intimate stories, compelling archive and experiments Child of Our Time brings you the inside story of today’s 16 year olds. 

Order our FREE 28-page booklet 'Young people: Changing times'



Episode guide

Changing Times

When and where

Tuesday, 4th April 2017 21:00 - (except Wales)
Thursday, 22nd June 2017 01:15 - (except Wales and Northern Ireland)

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Sir Robert Winston in a navy blue suit jacket and pale blue shirt on a white background. Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The BBC More open, available communication is having a huge impact on the lives of all of today’s teenagers.  In a bold experiment Child Of Our Time teens gave us access to their digital lives – giving a 24/7 window into their phone use.  The triplets Alice, Mabel and Phoebe were some of our highest social media users, with messages from friends every 2 minutes.  Tanya explores what impact this sociable multi-tasking has on concentration, social skills and risk taking in the real world.   

In Essex, Taliesin reveals what impact his online gaming habit is having on his friendships and his sleep, while Rebecca shows us why friends are so critical during testing times. As the exams approach, Het is finding her own strategies to manage exam stress and Ivo is already planning his future – many miles away from his identical twin Alex.  

As our teens reach this landmark age we explore how they cope with the challenges of life, to build their dreams for the future.  Through intimate stories, compelling archive and experiments Child of Our Time brings you the inside story of today’s 16 year olds.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Changing Minds In this episode Professor Robert Winston and Professor Tanya Byron discover how our teenagers’ changing brains means... Read more
Changing Times In this episode Professor Robert Winston and Professor Tanya Byron follow our teens through their GCSE year to... Read more

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