YouTube’s Growing Influence on Teens

I want you to think back to when you were a teen. What celebrities were most influential on your life?

My guess is that it would be an actor/actress from your favorite TV show or movie, a player on your favorite sports team or a musician in a band. Personally I was a huge fan of Sylvester Stallone and Dennis Rodman. Let me clarify that I was a fan of pre-freak-show Rodman when he was with the Detroit Pistons and they won back-to-back championships.

Looking back, my infatuation with these celebrities was wrapped up in the character they rockyplayed or the effort they displayed and less about who they were. I idolized Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky. I was drawn in by the dedication, determination and will he displayed. I mirrored my style of play on the basketball court after Rodman’s. Diving for loose balls and recklessly going up for rebounds against bigger guys. That was the sum of what I knew of them, yet they were powerfully influential on my life.

Teens today want more. For someone to have influence on them they want to know their story, know they have things in common and feel that that person, in-part, represents their own aspirations in life. I believe this is true for two reasons.

One, teens have greater access to information than I did when I was a teen. They have the ability like never before to find out more about a celebrity beyond what they see on stage or the big screen. Finding out more can make the teen more or less interested in that person. If I would have known some things about Rodman back when I was a teen I may not have held him in such high regard.

Two, teens today have a strong desire for authenticity and affinity. To truly know someone else and feel connected to others. If they learn that they have similar interests and passions of a celebrity they like, the more they will feel connected to that  person. And ultimately that celebrity will begin to be influential on them.

With today’s teens desires to connect with others and the rise of the internet, it comes as no surprise then that YouTube personalities (A person or group that gains widespread recognition on the internet and beyond for videos they post on YouTube) are rising in the ranks of celebrities who are influential to teens today.

youtube-stars-shine-brightestIf you are not familiar with YouTube channels, here is a quick snapshot. Individuals and or groups create videos of varying lengths (sometimes multiple videos each day) on all sorts of topics from their daily life, dance, music, beauty/fashion tips, complete randomness,  or their own mini-shows. My kids personally love Kid Snippets videos where kids do the voice-overs for adults acting out situations. They are pretty funny. Some channels build a solid following with millions of subscribers and views on their videos.

Personally I have stumbled upon entertaining channels myself and before I knew it I had viewed a dozen videos by the same creator. I even found myself checking back for new content days later. Teens are digital natives and big users of YouTube and they are doing the same thing. For instance, a recent survey by Variety magazine “found the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are all YouTube celebrities,” not your traditional movie actors or actresses.

I asked Leo, a teen from southern California, to give me his thoughts on YouTube Celebrities being influential on teens today. Here are his thoughts:

In my opinion, I believe that they are influential and popular because they are associated with comedy, youth and consistency. YouTube stars tend to post content frequently, therefore gaining a much greater audience than say a mainstream actor who only comes out in a movie once or twice a year.

Most of the mainstream media actors do not have the interaction that the YouTube stars have due to the fact that they have no form of communication with their fans other than their social media. Even then they’re very limited towards what they can say. On the other hand, YouTube stars have the option of interacting with their audience through the form of a video which they can post at any time they wish. They have the liberty of voicing their opinion on their channel.

If you compare Felix Kjellberg (a Swedish video game commentator on YouTube known as PewDiePie) to Jennifer Lawrence, Felix posts content every single day. About two videos and each ranging about 7-10 minutes long. That has led to his HUGE success now with over 31 Million subscribers. Therefore he has a better interaction with his fan base community. Jennifer Lawrence on the other hand comes out in a hit movie every couple of months for about 2 hours. This amount of content and interaction plays big role because unlike Jennifer, Felix has public exposure everyday which keeps him very relevant in the media. What big celebrities struggle with is the fact that they cannot stay very relevant in the media. Right after a big movie or TV show is released, they just gradually lose the interests of the public.

If you still do not think teens are being influenced by YouTube stars, look at the fact the bethany-mota-at-teen-choice-awards-2014-in-los-angeles_21Teen Choice awards now have a category to recognize Web Stars. Bethany Mota and Tyler Oakley took home the 2014 honors for Web Star Female and Male by the way. Side Note: Bethany is also on the current season of Dancing with the Stars. Which leads to a whole other conversation around brands using YouTube Celebrities to influence teens for their brand. We will save that for another time.

Youth Worker and Parent Tips:

  • Learn who some of the popular YouTube celebrities are. Common Sense Media has an article titled 10 YouTube Stars Your Kids Love that i recommend you start with.
  • Use YouTube to create a common connection with your teen(s). Find a YouTube channel that you and your teen(s) both enjoy and is appropriate for their age and watch the videos together. Like I mentioned earlier my kids, who are not teens yet, enjoy Kid Snippets and we occasionally watch them together.
  • Have a discussion with your teen(s) about their favorite YouTube channels, why they like those channels and what is it about the videos that connects with them. You might learn something about your teen that you did not know or identify opportunities for you to connect better with them.

One Simple Thing You Can Do to Make a Big Difference in Teens Lives

Every time I speak with youth workers or parents, I continually share the one idea that I feel will make a difference in teens lives today. One concept that if you use it with your teens over time, you will see a difference. A difference in your relationship. A difference in their respect for you. And a difference in the impact you can have on their lives.

The great thing about this ideas is how simple it is. Are you ready for it?


Simple right? Let me unpack this concept for you.

If you work with teens, before they even arrive for your program, have a plan in mind. I don’t just mean your program plan.

For Youth workers it looks like:

  • Having intentional plans about specific youth you want to connect with. Maybe a teen who you know had a bad day the previous day. Or one who had a big test today. Or had a court appearance. Seriously make a list of the teens you want to connect with and keep it in your pocket.
  • Have specific conversations in mind that you want to have with teens. About character traits. About events happening in pop culture that might connect to elements of your program.
  • Think about teens who you can complement them on what they have been doing well recently. Or just share how much you appreciate them.
  • Intentionally plan fun! We often get stuck in our program goals and forget to have fun. Teens want to have fun. Plan jokes, fun Minute to Win it games, Minute mysteries, icebreakers etc.
  • Be intentional with your staff and volunteers.
    • Have staff review a list of teens in your program. Identify which ones you know well and which ones you don’t. Then intentionally make efforts to reach out to the ones you don’t know as well. Make it your goal that day to learn one thing about one of those teens. If you continually do this, over a month you will know a decent amount about that teen.
    • If you volunteer with teens make sure you connect with the staff or other volunteers briefly to develop a game plan for the day. Who is going to lead discussions, who is leading activities, what topics may have been discussed on days when you were not present.

For Parents it can look like:

  • Intentionally make plans to hang out with your teen and do something they want to do. Schedule dates with them. My father-in law did this with all four of his daughters. He frequently made time to connect with each of them one-on-one, to listen to them and to connect with them. I have already started building daddy-daughter dates into my routine with my two girls even though they are not teens yet.
  • Write down the values and characteristics you want your teens to have and then figure out creative ways to introduce those to your teens. If you want them to be problem solvers invite them to help you the next time you have to fix an issue in your house, but let them come up with the solutions and try them out. If you want them to have a giving spirit, include them in conversations about what charities your family gives donations to. Even better, give them a set amount of money that they can donate to a charity of their choice. Walk alongside them as they investigate which charity they want to support.
  • Pay attention to what their favorite snacks are, TV shows, Movies or magazines. And when they are having a rough day or week, surprise them with their favorite snack or magazine.
  • Ask how their day was and truly listen. If they don’t respond be more specific, ask about a certain class, or teacher, or test, or activity they participate int.

Chap Clark in his book Hurt makes a powerful statement regarding adolescence today. He says, “we as adults who care have a long way to go to penetrate the layers of protection that keep us from being one more disappointment (to teens) in a world filled with them. But I am convinced that we are welcome there, if we mean it. And they need us to mean it.”

Do whatever you can not to be a disappointment to the teens in your life. I believe it all starts with being intentional.


Last April I shared about #SemiColonProject416. This is where teens drew a semicolon on their wrist to represent that they struggle with self-harm, depression or suicidal semi colonthoughts. Drawing the semicolon on your wrist and seeing others with the semicolon on their wrist was a show of support, that you are not alone with your struggles and that you can overcome what ever it is you are facing.

I spoke to several teens who said participating in the #SemiColonProject416 helped them feel normal and made them realize that they could talk to their friends about the issues they were facing. Overall it made them feel like they were not alone with the struggles they faced.

thelinesThis week I came across a similar project scheduled for next week (December 15-20th) called #TheLinesProject. This is a similar act of drawing on your wrist if you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide. One significant difference is if you are not experiencing these thoughts but want to show support to those who are you draw the lines on your right wrist. If you are experiencing thoughts of depression and self-harm you draw the lines on your left wrist.

Just a few clicks on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr show this picture re-posted tens of thousands of times. Many of the teens I spoke to about #TheLinesProject had not heard about it. But with Social Media today I am betting many will know about it by the end of the week.

Teens desire to feel part of a community, to feel like they are normal or at least not too different from their peers. For teens that struggle with various negative thoughts, this is one way for them to share that they have gone through some hardships and that they have struggled. And it is a great opportunity for teens to show support for one another.

Parent and Youth Worker Tips:

  • If you see a teen with a the lines drawn on their wrist, ask them about it. Ask them what it means or why they have drawn it on their skin.
  • Ask them if they want to talk.
  • I am not a counselor or a psychologist, if there is one that works at your organization or school please share this with them and discuss how you should proceed if you see a teen with a these lines drawn on their arm.
  • I do not know much about this yet, but I do not see a need to freak out at every teen who has a semicolon drawn on them. But I do see it as a sign from that teen, maybe a little flag saying “help me” or “notice me.” As parents and youth workers when we see something like this we need to let the teens know that we care for them.
  • Be there for your teens. Love on them. Show them that they matter.
  • Become familiar with the resources in your community that deal with teens who have suicidal thoughts or self-harm.



Building Relationships with Teens: Pay Attention to Them

If you have not read my previous two posts on Building Relationships with Teens, I encourage you to go back and read post one to get an idea of why I started this series. And you can find post two is located here.

This is the third post in a series on how to connect with teens based on the Teen Voice 2010 study from the Search Institute and Best Buy Children’s Foundation. In this study, they shared a list of “10 tips from Teens to Adults” that outlined how to best connect with teens and what they look for in a caring adult relationship. In my second post, I focused on the tip, “Spend time talking with us,” where I shared examples of how I have done this in my work with teens. I also provided some tips for youth workers and parents. Today I will share practical examples of how I connected with teens using Tip #3.

Tip 3: LISTEN. Pay attention. Don’t multitask or get distracted when you’re with us. Respond to messages and texts.

I shared these 10 tips with a group of teens I am currently working with and asked their opinions. Today, one of the girls commented that the whole list was right on. But she continued to say that the most important tip on the list is to listen. She said she is “always getting yelled at for being on her phone, but many of the adults around her do the same thing.”

In a culture where teens are often driven to see how many “likes” or comments they can get on social networks or how many people view their video, you would think everyone is listening to them. When I have talked with teens about this, they admit that they know social networks don’t replace real face-to-face relationships. They also know that often people are not being their true selves online.

Teens crave authenticity, and as adults, parents and youth workers, we can provide that.

mom-teen-girl-talkingBut that means we must truly listen to them.

This tip and tip one (look at us and make eye contact) have a similar message: Pay attention to me; show me that you are listening and that you care.

I can’t use the line, “Back when I was a teen director,” because it truly has not been that long. But a lot has changed. I did not own a cell phone or have a social network account. So teens were not connecting with me through digital devices, but we still had our fair share of distractions.

Rather than tell you of a time when I did listen to teens well, I want to tell you the ways I did not listen to teens well. In my role as the teen director at the local Boys & Girls Club, I had a lot of responsibilities. We often had 60–80 teens in our facility at a time, more during the winter months. This created distractions for me. Instead of focusing on the one conversation I was having with a teen or small group of teens I was constantly looking away, scanning the room to make sure the other teens were behaving or seeing who had just arrived.

I had a technique I refer to as “drive-by conversations.” I would circle the room stopping briefly at each group of teens to comment on a pool game, ask how school was that day or ask who was winning at Madden. I was making little connections but often I was not allowing for a true response. Often I was walking away as they were responding to my initial question. I was not listening to them.

Tips for Youth Workers and Parents:

  • Don’t be distracted. Do the basics: look at the teen you are talking with, turn and face him or her, have an open posture and ask follow-up questions to show you are engaged. Model the behavior you want to see in them.
  • Put your phone out of sight. They can be the biggest distraction we have around us. If it vibrates, rings or sings to you, do not immediately reach for it. Parents, create a cell phone parking lot in your home where cell phones go while you are in the house. This will limit your desire to look at it every five seconds.
  • Respond. If they email, call, text, tweet, or send a carrier pigeon or smoke signals, make sure you respond in a timely manner. And this means knowing what a timely manner is for teens.
  • Schedule follow-up conversations. If you do have to step away for a legitimate reason like a meeting or you have to use the bathroom, let them know when you will be back or schedule a time to finish your conversation. Be proactive and seek them out to follow-up and re-connect.  I worked with a staff member who was great at this. Often when she would have a task at hand, she would ask the teen to walk and talk with her as she moved about the teen center.

Teen Culture Articles of Interest

I have heard great leaders and innovators say that they are constantly reading. They do this to educate themselves, stay in the know about what is going on concerning topics of interest and to help them plan their next steps. I personally try to make time to read each day. Some days it is books, other days just articles of interest. This has been one of the most beneficial practices I have started in terms of helping me be more knowledgeable on a given topic (Teen Culture for example) and become forward thinking about how we need to engage teens in todays culture.

For those of you who have not yet started your own reading time or currently do not have the time, here are some articles I read recently that stand out.

How Prepared Are Your Students for College? From Kara Powell of With a GREAT supporting Infographic from USA Today Education. A couple stand-out statistics to me were, “5 in 10 College Freshmen cannot find New York or Ohio on a Map” and “over half-a-million college freshmen drop out every year.” It is an eye opening read about how prepared our teens are for college courses today.

Why Fast, Cheap, and Easy Design Is Killing Your Nonprofit’s Brand. This article in FastCompany written by Heath Shackleford is not about teen culture. But if you have a program you are trying to grow, it has great advice for today’s Non-Profit. It asks the following question, “If you’re a nonprofit, ask yourself these questions. Do you want to fit in, or do you want to stand out? Do you want to “look pretty” or do you want to be effective?” I am guessing each of you want to stand out and be effective right? Start by checking out this article.

‘Cool’ kids in middle school bully more, UCLA psychologists report This new study looks at students in Middle school who were labeled the coolest and the most aggressive at the same time. It raises the issue that, “effective anti-bullying programs need to focus on the bystanders, who play a critical role and can either encourage or discourage bullying.” Work with middle school students? Then you need to read this article.

Here are a couple of more articles of interest:

What articles or books are you currently reading?

Straight From Teens: What’s Popular

From time to time I dedicate a post to share what I am hearing from Teens. What they say is popular, possible new teen trends developing or just fun stuff related to teens. Here is the latest installment, enjoy.

pheedA new Social Network has come on the scene.  It is called Pheed and seems to take many of the our favorite aspects of other Social Networks (Facebook, twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc) and combines them into one. I saw several articles stating that this new Social Networking app is VERY popular with teens. Check out this one from Fast Company titled Tweeting Teens Help Propel Pheed to #1 Social App. But when I started talking to teens, I only found one who actually had heard of the app. I don’t think this has gained much popularity yet but it looks like it could have some potential.

Several Apps have popped on the scene lately that allow you to “connect” with Social Media friends that like you more than a friend. One is called “Bang with Friends,” which according to its tag line let’s you “Anonymously find friends who are down for the night.” The other is called Tinder and it let’s you identify Facebook/Twitter friends you “Like” and if they say they “Like” you as well, it will connect you. Their Tag line is “A Fun Way To Break the Ice.” Here is a good article from Johnathan McKee about Bang with Friends.  I will be honest, I have not heard teens talking about these apps. But as they are recently gaining in popularity they probably already know about them. Which means we as Youth workers and parents need to be aware of them as well.

If you have not heard or seen by now, the Harlem Shake is VERY popular. If you have no clue what I am talking about check out my recent blog post Teens are Getting their Shake on.

Popular music with teens today includes the following artists: Maroon 5, Miguel, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, Lupe Fiasco and Rihanna.  Some stand outs are Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch and Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (the Music Video has over 143 Million views on YouTube). I was going to post some links to their videos on YouTube, but after viewing a couple I decided against it based on the content in some of the videos. What I recommend is heading over to iTunes, search for the artist and then listen to the previews of their more recent and popular songs.

What Fun Apps are Teens Playing with on their Smartphones?

Do you want to know what Movies are popular with Teens? If so don’t watch the Oscars. I asked teens about the movies up for Oscars, turns out most had never heard of nor seen any of them. For better luck check out the Movies nominated for MTV Movie Awards. This tends to be a better way to gauge what teens are watching.

What is popular with your teens? Leave a comment and let me know.

Teens are Getting Their Shake On!

If you have had access to the internet or a teenager in the last two weeks, by now you have probably heard about the Harlem Shake. It is the latest viral video craze that is sweeping the internet teens are getting in on the action.

Here is the basic context. You and your friends put on the song, Harlem Shake by Baauer. For the first 15 seconds one person dances awkwardly, often times with a mask or something covering their face, and everyone else pretends they do not see the person. After 15 seconds (when the songs beat changes) you cut to everyone dancing and going crazy. I know, complex isn’t it. If you have a few minutes or hours to spare just type Harlem Shake into YouTube and you will be amused for as long as you can take it. Here is one of the more popular ones on You Tube that currently has over 22 million views.

I talked to teens across the country and found that almost all of them have been in a Harlem Shake video (or several) with their school, team, youth group, Club, family or friends.

When trends or viral videos like the Harlem Shake pop up, and they pop up almost every month these days, some will say that they lead to negative behavior. This week I heard of two cases where teens were suspended from school for their roles in creating or attempting to create a Harlem Shake video. One case involved teens lying to their teacher about what they were doing and pushing the limits on the appropriateness of the dance moves they were doing.

Overall viral videos like the Harem Shake can be a lot of fun for teens. But we have to remember that teens are still developing and sometimes may not make the best decisions. This is often the case when viral videos or trends get teens in trouble. They see a video like the Harlem Shake and think about what they could do to be more outrageous and get more views or likes on YouTube. This thought can outweigh the logical thoughts they have and cause them to push the limits.

What do I suggest when it comes to trends like the Harlem Shake? I will give you an example. A friend of mine who is a pastor made the following tweet tonight: “Who’s up for a Harlem shake video at mid-week tomorrow night? Bring props and we’ll do it.”

I love it! He is recognizing the trend and engaging with teens in making their own video. This means they will have appropriate supervision and guidance but will also have a great time. It can also bring the group closer together through a fun mutual experience.

Youth Tip: Keep your eyes and ears open for the latest trends and figure out how you can engage with your teens in the latest trend. Also, have conversations with them about how far they are willing to go to get likes and views on social media.

A Teens View of Social Media

One of the best way to understand teens, learn their perspectives on various topics and what the current teen trends are is to ask them questions and to listen to them. This is a point I share frequently because it is the key to understanding teens and to building relationships with them. Occasionally I will share thoughts and quotes from teens in my post or even let a teen share their views and thoughts on certain topics to help us gain insight.

This week I read a blog post written by a teen talking about her perspectives and thoughts on Social Media. I thought this was a great opportunity to see Social Media from the perspective of a teen. So I asked if I could share their blog post with each of you.

Let me first tell you a little about my guest blogger. Allie is a 19 year- old freshmen at the University of Connecticut majoring in English. Her favorite App is either Twitter or Instagram and her favorite TV show is Suits on the USA network. You can check out Allie’s blog where she writes about life and the transition from being a kid to an adult.

For Your Eyes Only, written by Allie.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever. I love social media. Sosososo much, in facebookfact I spend 70% of my conscious time scrolling through various news feeds—in class, mid conversation, half asleep, I’m basically always online (except when you try to text me, you’ll probably get a response in 3 hours – 2 days). And after spending so much time this way, I’ve realized that a lot of people are misusing social media (or is everyone else doing it right and I’m LIKE TOTALLY using it wrong?!?!). But before I get into what I mean by that I’ll preface with an explanation.

In my opinion: sympathy sucks. I hate being babied, coddled, comforted, the works. Yes, even when I’m upset. Leave me alone. I don’t want or need the “I’m sorry’s” or “Are you okay” or “I’m here for you” especially the pitying looks that come along with it. In my opinion pity helps no one.

twitterTrue authentic friendship and all that jazz is unspoken. I’ll come to you. Likewise, if you’re upset don’t assume I don’t care, I do, I’m giving you the space I know I’d want and sparing the awkward pity exchanges. Again, obviously if we’re friends call me, text me, I’m here. But only if you ask, I’m not going to intrude on your grief, it’s not about me and I don’t want to make it about me.

So what, does this have to do with social media? Ahhh great question, and so you shall see… Cue the transition!

On Facebook I have 700+ friends (after the post graduation purge), 120+ twitter followers (I only follow like 70 people, so I’m pretty popular OKAY), 80+ Instagram followers (okay so instagrammy pictures just suck), and like 4 people who snapchat me regularly. Basically the epitome of popularity, RIGHT? Anyways, my followings and friendships are considered small. But seriously, are there really more than 700 people who I can call my friend? Or that I take interest in the happenings of their lives? Heeeeellllllll naw. Let’s face it, if these pages actually reflected my close friendships there’d be about 10 people on each (maybe fewer).

But is that what social media is really about? Facebook is a place to make connections with old and new friends. It’s for sharing pictures, videos, little tiny snippets of our lives to the people we’ve encountered along the way. Twitter is even less of that, can you really form or upkeep bonds in 140 characters or less? Again, I repeat: heeeeellllllll naw. I follow comedians, celebrities, parody accounts, NYC_Blonde (<3333), and sure my friends too. Twitter is about laughs, tiny nuggets of information, and the sharing of non-problems like tripping in public or complaining about the weather. And the same goes for Instagram and snapchat. These are public forums, and most times open to anyone and everyone.

So the problem is, that people are using these places to air dirty laundry and to express serious problems. I am definitely not saying that you’re problems aren’t real or that what you’re going through isn’t tough. Not at all. But I am trying to be realistic. Realistically, how many of your 100+ followers actually care? How many of them will actually want to help you. Oh yeah, I’m sure you’ll get plenty of “keep your head up” replies or “stay strong” comments. But how many of them are invested enough in your life to share your pain? How many actually have your phone number and can call you to make sure you’re okay?

And believe you me that I do not want even a fraction of my followers to try to comfort me. I sleep easier knowing I have Madison on speed dial and that Taylor will run across campus to see me. And that my other close friends, no matter how far away will sit with me in silence on the phone until I want to talk. Moral of this too long story: you have real friends, use them. Because when Facebook and Twitter go the same way as MySpace, most of your ‘friends’ will disappear.

Life Went Fast for Teens in 2012

I’ve been reflecting on 2012 the past few weeks, thinking about all the Teen Focus Groups I facilitated, teens I interacted with and articles I have read on Teen Trends and Culture. The more I have reflected the more I see a common theme that played out in Teen Trends for 2012. It is this idea or notion that teens feel “Life Goes Fast.”

The last Focus Groups I facilitated this year hit this notion home for me when two of the teen members in the group kept referencing how fast life was going. They were saying things like how soon one of them would turn 18 years old, how fast teen trends change, how the school year was going by so face and how if they blinked they might miss something

goobye-2012-hello-2013Let’s reflect on a few Teen Trends we saw pop up this year that showcase the notion that teens feel “Life Goes Fast.”  First there was the popular phrase YOLO (You Only Live Once) that popped up everywhere from tweets to tags and on clothing. It was one way for teens to relate to each other that life is moving fast and that they need to live in the moment. Check out my May 1st Post Whats Up With YOLO for more information.

The next big trend I noticed was more teens getting Tattoos this year. When I asked teens about this trend they said that getting a tattoo is a way for them to remember certain event or person in their life that had an impact on them. Because life moves so fast they never wanted to forget that feeling, that event or that person and they felt getting a tattoo was a way to always remember. Check out my August 15th Blog Post Teens and Tattoos for more information.

And lastly is a trend I have seen for a couple of years now. Every teen event I have been to have one thing in common. Teens taking tons of pictures and videos. They love capturing instagramevery moment no matter how big or small. But that is not the end of it, they need to share that picture with others to show them the cool things that they just did, ate or experienced. You can see this Trend through the fact that one of the HOTTEST Apps this year was Instagram that allowed teens to share their life through photos with cool filters. Read more about Instaram in my post on August 28th titled What Do Teens Say is Popular.

With the technology age, more teens having smartphones and teens seeing tragic events both natural and man mad in the media, I do not see this mentality of “Life Goes Fast” fading anytime soon. I bet we see some New Teen Trends pop up this year that follow this same pattern.

Let me know if you see any new Teen Trends or remember other trends from 2012 that follow the Live Goes Fast mentality.

What Teens Want for Christmas

I have really gotten into the Christmas spirit this year. I’m listening to Christmas music with my family every chance I get, took my girls to look at Christmas lights around town and most importantly taken time to bless others with gifts this season. All of this has got me thinking, What do Teens Want for Christmas this year? 

I decided to do a very detailed and scientific study to answer this questions. My process you ask? It involved asking teens, asking youth workers who work with teens and parents of teens to ask them what they want. I know what you are thinking, that is very detailed and scientific indeed. Then I compiled the answers for my first every very scientific study of What Teens Want for Christmas this year. So here you have it.

Very popularimagesCA7IRI99 and mentioned by numerous teens were Video games and gaming accessories (for XBox 360, Wii and PS3). The most popular games that were asked for include Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Just Dance 4 and NBA 2K13.

Of course all things technology are always popular with teens, so it was no surprise that they wanted the latest gadgets and devices. Such as the Kindle Fire , Apple iPad and various Smartphones.

Before I get to the most popular items and my recommendations for the top gifts to get that teen in your life, let’s hear directly from a few teens about what they want for Christmas this year.

Reina, 15 yrs. Old: “For Christmas I want everyone around the world to have a good, warm meal, shelter, a good family, and toys for the little children.”

 Brayan, 16 yrs. Old: “For Christmas I want a PS3 and some games.”

 Davis, 15 yrs. Old: “I would like to get Black Ops 2 for my PS3.”

 teen christmasKevin, 17 yrs. Old: “For Christmas I don’t really need any material things because I have a job for that.  I just want to have a good year with my family and to do well in school.”

 Monica, 16 yrs. Old: “I would really enjoy getting something with a zebra pattern on it because I love zebra’s!”

 Irene, 15 yrs. Old: “What do I want for Christmas?  Oh…Justin Beiber perfume because it smells really good!”

 Michelle, 17 yrs. Old: “I want a professional camera for Christmas.”

 David, 14 yrs Old: “I would like, umm…an XBOX 360 controller.”

In case you have not already made a purchase for that teenager in your life, here are the top asked for gifts and my recommendations. Don’t worry, these can be relatively inexpensive.

The top item I heard teens ask for this year are headphones and earbuds. Now that almost all teens have a Smartphone or MP3 player of some sorts ear buds are turning into a must earbudshave accessory. They are for more than just listening to music, they are a fashion statement and many teens have multiple sets to go with different outfits and styles. The most popular and most asked for brand is Beats by Dre, which are on the pricy side. But don’t fret if that is way out of your price range. Teens also enjoy the less pricy but still stylish brand SkullCandy, which offers earbuds and headphones for all price ranges. Hint: you can find SkullCandy earbuds for right around $10 that would make a great stocking stuffer.

Whenever I am getting gifts or prizes for teens this next item is always at the top of my list. So I was not surprised to see many teens just asking for Gift Cards. (Visa Gift Cards, iTunes, amazon, movie theater etc.) They are excited because it allows them to get something they truly want vs. a gift they may not be too happy with. And the great thing is if they get several small gift cards, they may be able to add them up and get that one big item they had been hoping for.

So you heard it straight from Santa…I mean teens themselves. If you have to purchase a gift for a teen this year and they have not given you a list. Stick to what is listed here and you should be in good shape.