Representation of Teenagers in Today’s Media


Feature Image Caption“Screenshot of text” By Jiang, 2022

Teenagers get a really bad rep these days. Now that technology has advanced, the idea of teenagers being immature and dangerous has spread. When teens are mentioned on the news, it’s usually for gang activities and crimes. If you search up teenagers on the news right now, you’ll see stories regarding one of the newest gang killings, teenagers found dead, teenagers running away from home, and more. Just on the 19th of January, three teenagers and one 20-year old shot a 15 year old in a New Years party, killing him. While these incidents and many more did occur, and they’re definitely something that should receive attention, our media never posts anything adequate about teenagers. After all, nobody wants to hear a long article about a teenager doing their homework and obeying their parents (things that most teenagers do). Teenagers are constantly painted either as a thirsty, crime seeking individual or as an overachieving pop artist (Olivia Rodrigo, and previously, Billie Eilish). The media doesn’t seem to consider how a majority of teens are in between – they’re still experiencing and learning to be their own person. That being said, these common stereotypes about teenagers are also affecting the teens’ ability to be proud of their own person, because they believe that they’re a part of the lazy, selfish, and dangerous category so many people put teens under.

Media can refer to news articles, books, movies, and social media. In each of these examples given (and more), teenagers are portrayed wrongly. How many movies have you watched where teenagers were presented as bratty, evil, or dangerous? Quite a lot, I bet. Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty Little Liars are all well known movies/TV shows that we’ve all probably watched before. Let’s be honest: what kind of high school is like Northshore High School (Mean Girls)? Rollerblading kids, kids who set things on fire, ridiculous schemes to destroy everyone’s friendship? You’d be hard pressed to find any high school in the world like this. Now, The Breakfast Club is a whole different story. Have you ever heard of 5 completely different students with completely different backgrounds getting into a 9 hour detention? Or a principal who doesn’t care about his students and locks them up when they’re not behaving well? Also, what school has foundations so weak that Bender fell straight through the ceiling when escaping from his locked room? These are unrealistic teenagers and high schools, yet we still watch them for entertainment and don’t really think about just how absurd this is.

These types of media portray teenagers and highschool in an unrealistic manner. These negative representations of teenagers in our current media come with many stereotypes. While it’s true that all teenagers have something to work on, this misrepresentation of teenagers in our media today is far too exaggerated and stereotypical in our society today. Our media enjoys portraying teenagers in a poor light because positive representations of them are far less entertaining. However, this stereotype has already taken place in many of our daily minds. It’s now called the “teenage brain” when we sometimes act impulsively, rudely, and unthinkingly. However, these stereotypes can create an imbalance in our brain that may lead to even more risky and wrong behaviors, almost only to prove society right. There are many teenagers out there who care about their futures, study hard, and can responsibly make their own decisions. Today’s media isn’t helping with the growth of our maturity; rather, it may be slowing it down because these stereotypes affect how we think and act every day.

Take me as an example, a young teenager. By reading all those stories about teenagers and focusing only on my mistakes, my family believes I won’t survive in the outside world because I never speak up for myself and don’t know how to do anything. Little do they know, I do know how to do most things needed for survival. My grandma constantly tells me: oh, you don’t even know how to cook! Have you ever washed your own clothes? You’re just a kid, you’re not mature enough yet. Excuse me grandma, I do know how to cook, I used to do all of our chores and laundry back at home, and I’ve encountered plenty of stuff and now know how to approach almost every problem. By reading and watching all these stereotypical videos and articles of how teenagers misbehave, their minds are now focused only on my shortcomings and they automatically assume I can’t do anything. This is probably true to many teenagers in the world, I know quite a few friends who have had the same experience as I have.

Next time you read an article on teenagers, try thinking from an unbiased perspective. Is this how a majority of teenagers actually act, or is this how some select teenagers behave? Do teenagers actually party 24-7, or do they focus on their schoolwork so they can go to a good college? Are they a couch potato, or do they actually help around the house? Don’t let your mind automatically jump to the false conclusions made by adults next time you look at any type of media. Think better of yourself and don’t put yourself under these stereotypes! Everyone has shortcomings (even adults) and these shortcomings do not define us. What’s important is to continue learning and experiencing new things while we’re still young.