The Truth Behind Those Overused Teenage Stereotypes

Gabrielle Cassini, Staff Writer

  The intense eyeliner, loud angry music and slamming doors. These stereotypes have continued to develop for years through the media. Today, movies including “The Breakfast Club” and “Mean Girls”  have shaped our visions of the “typical teenager.” When hearing the word “teenager,” it often already comes off as problematic.  Most do not understand, through the teen years, teenagers are figuring out their own identity, relationships and future plans of who they want to become. Many Parents continue to ask questions like, “What is wrong with them? Such a teeneger!” It is important to remember they could be dealing with something very significant in their life you are unaware of. It is time to look past the teenage stereotypes, and consider the deeper meanings. 

           Teens are described in many ways such as being called “sleepyheads,” “moody teenagers,” or “glued to the screen.” From falling asleep in their first period class, or coming down to the kitchen around 12 p.m., there is more reasoning than the repetitive word teens are called “lazy.”  

        According to the US. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “Teens need more sleep because they are in a time of very fast physical, intellectual, and emotional growth.”

        Additionally, the sleep they are lacking results in doing poorly in school, or being moody/irritable. 

        In an anonymous survey sent out to Dulaney students,  87.5 percent say they are called “too attached to your phone”, and 83.3 percent are consistently called “lazy”. 

           As far as being glued to the screen, most people assume teens are playing nonsense games, when in reality, they could be doing something creative or important that you are not aware of.  It is not their fault they were born into a society of social media. On the other hand it is arguable that social media has many negative impacts on the human brain. 

         “Teens who use social media are at greater risk for negative self-image, higher rates of anxiety and depression and declines in life satisfaction,” Jessica Hackmann, a psychologist at Dulaney High School, says.

          Furthermore, when teens are experiencing these factors, they are immediately stereotyped regardless of what is going on deeper inside.

         Hackmann also mentions, “Teenagers today are living in a world that no other generation has ever experienced. COVID-19 has altered every facet of our lives and teens are not immune to this. As a result, we have to assume that teen behaviors are going to be equally impacted.”

          Adults may have similar emotions, but the adolescent brain does function differently. 

The prefrontal cortex (part of your brain behind the forehead) is still maturing. This area is responsible for decision making, organizing, time management and emotional regulation.

            Adults create environments for younger children that support them with problem solving, work completion and goal attainment.

            Hackmann says, “As teenagers, more independence is expected.” 

         Teenagers often are unsure of what people expect from them. 

In the anonymous survey, one student agrees that teenagers are stereotyped and says, “We are expected to be like adults, but are treated as children.” 

     Adolescents are also often accused of having risky behavior, which is actually a normal part of development. It instead reflects on a process for acquiring experience, and preparing oneself for complex decisions you will need to make as an adult. Nevertheless, teenage behavior isn’t just raging hormones, it is simply an imbalance in development of the brain. 

          Research also shows adolescent feelings often come across as invalid. The survey demonstrated that 84 percent of students feel adults assume, and do not actually understand how they are feeling. Likewise, it is proven parents and guardians often try to “fix” their teens, rather than understand them. 

            Another anonymous student said,“ …A lot of parents tend to be blind to the stress and work their children do, making teenagers often seen in a negative light. Teenagers look for an escape through their phone or other methods, but this usually is all parents see.”  

            Despite the fact that parents automatically treat teenagers as ungrateful, emotional and temperamental human beings, they often forget what falls behind those adjectives. During the grueling times of COVID, people are more vulnerable than before. It is important to disregard assuming, and instead start to consider others and their feelings.  


At home resources are available for the following:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for free 24 hour support
  • Maryland Suicide and Crisis Hotline: 1.800.422.0009
  • Baltimore County Crisis Response: 410.931.2214 
  • The Trevor Project: 1.866.488.7386 or text START to 678678