The 7 Main Stereotypes About Adolescents

There are numerous stereotypes about adolescents that create erroneous images about what they're capable of and achieving.
The 7 Main Stereotypes About Adolescents

Last update: 19 November, 2021

Almost certainly, when reading the title “The 7 Main Stereotypes About Adolescents”, a typical image of this stage probably comes to mind. But is it a positive or a negative?

The thing is that one of the biggest problems of adolescence is that prejudices abound around it. These create expectations that don’t always coincide with reality, but rather with what we want to believe. And in the long run, a fictitious idea is produced that stigmatizes the young people who are going through adolescence.

Let’s look a little more at what these stereotypes are about and try to retrace their path.

The 7 main stereotypes about adolescents

Below, we’ll describe some of the most well-known stereotypes that haunt young people today.

1. They’re rebellious

A father arguing with his teenage son.

We say that adolescents are rebellious as if rebellion were something alien and distant from our reality. Something that we have no contact with in adult life.

Adolescence is a stage in which young people seek to develop their own identity and this implies exercising more fully their right to decide and express their opinion. But this doesn’t mean that they’re being rebellious. And even if they were, this wouldn’t necessarily be bad.

In one way or another, cataloging a teenager in this way is unnecessary and doesn’t allow them to strengthen their autonomy or make their own decisions with confidence.

2. They’re lazy

In this sense, we adults talk about the laziness of our children as if it were something exclusive to this stage of life. As if it didn’t exist in adulthood, as if we ourselves never allowed some dishes to accumulate in the kitchen or avoided certain commitments.

It’s also good to ask yourself what they’re lazy against, as they have a lot of energy and are capable of committing themselves very seriously to those matters that interest and inspire them.

3. They have no values

This is a widespread prejudice, especially when traditional values are put in tension.

For example, many times, we hear phrases like “kids these days no longer respect their parents.” However, when an adolescent argues or confronts their father because he’s rude to their mother, what kind of values are we talking about? For many generations, respect goes hand in hand with silent obedience and fear, not with conviction.

What’s more, along the same lines as the previous prejudice, some adolescents are quite committed to many causes, which serves as evidence of adherence to certain values. For example, the protection of animals, gender equality, the protection of the planet, among others.

4. They’re conflictive

Another of the most widespread myths is that young people are confrontational just because. If we also add some additional components, such as social class, ethnicity, and gender, the resulting image is fatal. And unfortunately, this tends to further harm young blacks, those from the popular classes, or those who wear certain clothing.

What often happens is that, from an adult-centered framework, those who exercise authority roles don’t like to be confronted or challenged. Much less by those who have other conceptions of the world or by people with little experience, such as adolescents.

But other times, this shows up when parents lack the skills to assertively set limits.

5. They’re unstable

Adolescence has its own challenges, as changes occur at all levels. This involves certain very specific pressures and experiences that can go hand in hand with emotional swings. But this doesn’t make them unstable. It just means they’re still developing.

6. They’re easily influenced

It’s true that in adolescence, peer groups acquire great importance and that sometimes, acceptance outweighs differentiation. Being a part of a group is important and that means moving with the current.

However, all this is part of a normal process and the referring adults must know how to accompany and what tools to provide.

Again, it’s worth taking a moment to be self-critical and ask ourselves if society, in general, isn’t also easily influenced: Advertising, consumption, images of what we’re supposed to be, among other issues.

If we’re able to transcend prejudices, we’ll be able to admit that we adults also possess the qualities we point out as negative stereotypes  about adolescents.

7. They’re on their cell phones all day long

A row of teens standing leaning against a wall looking at their cell phones.

It’s true that the use of technology in this stage is usually excessive and that this brings problems regarding attention, concentration, and communication between families. However, we must recognize that it’s something that affects society as a whole (even at an early age) and that we need to establish rules on their appropriate use for everyone. It’s worth clarifying that prohibitions are neither effective nor educational.

There’s not just one adolescence

As we can see, there are numerous prejudices and negative stereotypes about adolescents, but we need to recognize and question them.

This doesn’t imply detaching young people from their responsibilities, nor should we ignore the difficulties of this stage. Rather, it’s about understanding that stereotyped readings are no longer enough.

The main problem with these prejudices is that they tie us to a single reality, which is usually a rather simplistic and unfair conception. In addition, in key stages of identity construction, stereotypes can be a stigma and limit the potential of young people.

After all, the motivation of adolescents depends in large part on what they receive from the environment. And if they hear all day that they’re lazy and rebellious, how eager will they be to change that deeply rooted image?

For this reason, it’s important that the whole society review its beliefs and conceptions about adolescence, which is much more diverse than we think. Not all young people can afford to be lazy, as many must go out to work to help their families.

In addition, we must not forget the way in which socialization affects those beliefs and thoughts that we internalize from an early age and that these define the way in which we interpret the world.

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