AFH Photo // Adam Nguyen
For Melinda Rosa, shopping is like a hobby. 
“It makes me feel good when I buy new things,” says Rosa, 16, from Dorchester. “The only downside about shopping is when I overdo it and spend a lot.” 
Many teens try to stay trendy, purchasing the latest fashions and technology. 
It helps them fit in. And it can give them a sense of independence. 
“I started buying stuff on my own when I was 14.” says Linh Phan, a junior at Boston Latin Academy. “It was when I was buying my family Christmas gifts.” 
The expectation of getting a paycheck and treating yourself is a positive feeling, teens say. 
“I started buying my own stuff when I first got a job,” says Rosa. 
Rayven Frierson, a junior from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says that more than the next big thing, she considers appearance and affordability in her clothing purchases. 
“A trend may be valuable to others since they feel like it’s the hottest thing on earth,” she says. “I do not really think about trends. I just think about what shirt and pants would look good together.” 
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Jerry Laplant, a senior at TechBoston Academy, tells the story of how his manager tried to manipulate him at work. 
In the start of June 2016, he says, he told her that he needed time to study for final exams. She responded, he says, by keeping him on the schedule every day -- and double shifts on weekends. 
She knew he needed the job. 
“I hate when people try to control you,” Laplant says. 
Seventeen-year-old Saphina Maxis, from Mattapan, knows the meaning of manipulation: “Influence in an unfair manner.” 
When her father first came to the US, she says, he didn’t have a place to live so he stayed with his sister. She was strict: No cooking without her permission -- even if he was hungry. He couldn’t use the laundry. 
He was sad until the day came when he could finally move out. 
Sherley Valeus, a senior at Boston International High School, says she had a friend who tried to play her. 
She wanted Valeus to steal money from her own family and built up sympathy by saying that no one cared about the friend. 
Valeus says she felt bad but did not want to be a thief. 
“The thing about [some] friends,” Valeus says now, “is that...you always need to be careful around them.” 
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AFH Photo // David Allen Douyon
To 15-year-old Maria Andrade, maturity more than age is what matters in the long run. 
“Maturity demonstrates that you are responsible and capable,” says Andrade, who attends the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers. 
Society seems intent on assigning a number to every possible thing. But, teens say, maturity is a better way to determine whether they are ready to deal with things or not. 
“Being mature is when someone has been through life,” says Mikeria Marshall, 15, from Roxbury. “When someone reaches maturity, they know how to handle challenges that life throws at them.” 
Medgene Joseph, 15, says that age can mean zero. 
“Maturity is definitely more relevant to me,” says Joseph, who goes to school in Dorchester. 
She offers a dating scenario to back her argument: “If you’re 16 and dating someone who is 18 and childish, then what’s the point? But if you are 17 and dating a sophisticated 15-year-old, then that might go somewhere.” 
Or, as Andrade says: “Age….is just a number that sticks with you forever.” 
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AFH Photo // Kassandra Flores
Sixteen-year-old Joshua Lewis, from Boston Latin Academy, says that the traits attributed to him from his zodiac sign are in sync with his personality, including being energetic, as he does not rely on sugar or special drinks to keep him active. 
And he says he has yet to come across another Sagittarius that doesn’t share those same characteristics. 
Still, he says he is not convinced that the interpretations of zodiac signs -- based on the intersection of birthdays and astrological activity and dating back to ancient Egypt -- are valid. 
“They say things that are too general, vague stuff that applies to everybody,” Lewis says. “I don’t believe in it, but I accept the match.” 
According to onlinestarregistry.com: “Zodiac signs can be used for everything from letting us tap into our personality and special talents related to our signs to helping us know how our day will go.” 
Some teens are so into the zodiac -- often used interchangeably with the term horoscope -- that they will switch-up their style to coincide with it. 
“About 85 percent of people I know try to live up to it,” says Azana Williams, 16, who goes to BLA. 
Stephanie Ortega, 16, from BLA -- known for sometimes being loud -- says that’s one of the qualities assigned to Libras. 
She doesn’t need to fake it, like some may do. 
“That would mean everyone,” she says, “would be living up to an expectation.” 

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Kathryn Capo, a junior at Boston Latin Academy, used to envision herself being a part of “The Powerpuff Girls,” which debuted in 1998. 
“There weren’t many [TV] shows at that time that were portraying girls as being superheroes,” she says. 
But, for Capo, it was more than just a young dream that took hold. Capo says she drew a lingering lesson from the powerful female stars of the animated series. 
“They inspired me to become a woman who doesn’t need approval of other people -- especially men,” she says. 
Many young people are tempted to base their aspirations or behaviors on TV shows and movies -- wanting to become a doctor after binge-watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” for example. 
Some of these media projections are simply far-fetched, but others can offer valuable guidance. 
“A TV show or movie that can show a person making a mistake and fixing it or a person changing something for the better,” says Kaylee McKinnon, a junior at BLA, “can have an effect on someone’s [better] decision-making.” 
Entertainment that touches teens emotionally can manipulate, for sure, but also motivate. 
“Especially when we see something on screen and think, ‘Wow, that can happen to me,” says Kiara Yancey, a junior at BLA, “or ‘This has already happened to me.’ ” 

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