What’s “Cool” These Days, According to Teens

 

Reddit asked teens what’s cool nowadays, and here are the top 19 responses from the more than 14,000 people who have replied:

  1. Snapchat. The “silly toy for teens to send naked pictures to each other” … that’s worth an estimated $4 billion.

  2. Hating things that are cool.

  3. “Getting … drunk to the point of getting sick.”

  4. Disney’s “Frozen.” (See also: “Let It Go” remixes, elaborate fan theories.)

  5. Having pronounced eyebrows and discussing them at length. 

  6. “Roaming your local area/city centre with your friends without a real agenda.”

  7. Hating on Facebook.

  8. E-cigarettes or “vaping,” the controversial alternative to straight-up cigarettes. 

  9. Electronic dance music, or EDM — the type of stuff that plays in clubs.

  10. Ask.fm, one of many anonymous messaging sites. 

  11. “Being smart.” 

  12. Vine and Instagram, both popular photo- and video-sharing apps.

  13. Ray-bans, Doc Martens, and Converse sneakers

  14. Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch

  15. Pokemon 

  16. “Ironic grunge”

  17. “Living the life of a rapper, I guess.”

  18. Having a car.

  19. No-make-up selfies, a recent meme to raise awareness for cancer research. 

I ran the list by my kids, and they agreed that this is how teens think on all except for number 14: “Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch.” They said they’re not cool because people are starting to realize that the clothes aren’t great quality and that the people involved are pretty despicable.

They also said number 19 isn’t true. No-make-up selfies (or “no-filter” selfies, as they called them) aren’t about cancer research. They’re just girls showing off, claiming they’re not wearing make-up when they really are.

Some other top “cool” things include varsity jackets, “touching the booty” (don’t ask me; I have no idea aside from the obvious), hashtags, and amateur street photography. 

Caitlin Dewey at the Washington Post’s Style Blog says the list goes to show that the teens of 2014 aren’t any different from teens of the past. “They just have more tools on which to share their mischief,” Dewey says. “To paraphrase the researcher Danah Boyd, who studies technology and teens: Chill out! The kids are all right.”

What do you think? Are teens pretty much the same as those in the past, or are they disturbingly different? 

There are 25 comments.

  1. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Only the tools have changed.

    The one thing I don’t get is the eyebrow thing. I’ve seen it with my niece and with the daughters of coworkers, and it baffles me. Why do people want to walk around with a perpetual look of amazement all the time? I thought being bored and disinterested was more their style.

    As to snapchat, that one is a big [expletive] no in my house. That thing exists for one reason only: to hide the evidence.

    • #1
    • April 2, 2014, at 6:24 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Albert Arthur Coolidge

    Disney’s Frozen? Disney is cool?

    • #2
    • April 2, 2014, at 6:30 AM PDT
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  3. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    KP–ditto on snapchat. Creepy stuff. I don’t get the eyebrow thing either. Vulcans maybe? Nah. That’d be too cool. :))

    • #3
    • April 2, 2014, at 6:34 AM PDT
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  4. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    Albert Arthur:
    Disney’s Frozen? Disney is cool?

     lol. cute. 

    • #4
    • April 2, 2014, at 6:37 AM PDT
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  5. Adriana Harris Member

    Teens seem the same to me, a herd of individuals trying to be different from their parents. Unfortunately, facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the like give them more opportunities to make mistakes that could be permanent.

    • #5
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:05 AM PDT
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  6. KC Mulville Inactive

    I have two teenage daughters; one’s a senior in high school, the other’s a sophomore.

    Adults need to know two words when it comes to teenagers … Google History. If I can discover anything embarrassing about my teenagers, so can the bad guys. So if they’re too ignorant to clear their history cache, it’ll give me proof, and an excuse to lecture them (which is like torture). If they start clearing their cache regularly, that tells me they’re beginning to understand security, and my worry-level drops a bit.

    • #6
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:08 AM PDT
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  7. Pencilvania Inactive

    Disney is cool to a large segment of female society, I think starting with those who were about 6 when The Little Mermaid came out. I know several 30-year-olds who buy Disneybilia (for themselves) and have run Disney Princess half-marathons. Online fanart related to the princesses is huge. I would guess a large percentage of those answering to Reddit would be female.

    If number 11 is true, and I think it is – ‘being smart’ – then we must leverage how stupid many Democrat programs have turned out to be, in upcoming campaigns. ‘Love with all your heart, girls, and vote with all your brains.’

    • #7
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:08 AM PDT
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  8. AR Inactive
    AR

    In aggregate, teens are certainly worse. Just as there are fewer good parents and fewer intact families, there are fewer good teens these days so the teen average drops. Are the worst teens today worse than say the teens 30-40 years ago? Not particularly, after all teen parents were slaughtering their babies back then too. Fallen human nature–we’re all depraved–doesn’t change, but the percentages certainly do.

    • #8
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:16 AM PDT
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  9. Tim H. Member

    Yes, Disney is definitely cool, at least among teenaged girls. I have a seventeen-year-old, and she’s obsessed with Frozen. She and her friends have talked about coming up with an imitation of Elsa’s dress for the prom.

    I’ve been suspicious of Snapchat for the obvious reasons, but when my daughter suggested my getting it, I stopped worrying about her use. She’s not the type to abuse this…although I don’t know about the boys in her class. Anyway, she says that a lot of kids have stopped texting and use Snapchat instead.

    • #9
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:20 AM PDT
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  10. C. U. Douglas Thatcher

    Ah, I miss the days when my nieces and nephews were in single digits still and thought I was cool. Alas.

    Also, I like Number 2. It’s nice to know things haven’t changed a lot.

    • #10
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:52 AM PDT
    • Like
  11. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Here’s something about snapchat that was passed around among friends and family not long ago. It helped me make up my mind immediately about the app.

    Our teenagers may be no different than they were 30 or 40 years ago, but the culture that influences them is. It is much more crass, highly sexualized, and libertine in every way imaginable. As parents we exert what influence we can on our kids, but unless you homeschool, they are immersed in the culture for 8 or more hours a day. It can at times be impossible to stay ahead of the game and the best we can hope for is to put out the fires before they burn down all that we’ve labored to build.

    • #11
    • April 2, 2014, at 8:36 AM PDT
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  12. DocJay Inactive

    Nothing like a giant reservoir of future leaders to hand me entitlements in my old age. I feel so confident.

    • #12
    • April 2, 2014, at 8:43 AM PDT
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  13. AR Inactive
    AR

    Even when you homeschool, kids still need to be exposed to some of the crude out there. Parents just have more control when it comes to timing, exposure, etc. It can be a teaching experience instead of being viewed as what’s “normal.”

    for or the record, commenting on iOS devices still sucks. Especially commenting.

    • #13
    • April 2, 2014, at 8:53 AM PDT
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  14. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    I’ll take “ironic grunge” over “strip-club chic” any day of the week.

    • #14
    • April 2, 2014, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • Like
  15. Fricosis Guy Listener

    I’m sending my nine-year-old to two weeks of programming camp this summer (Minecraft, then Scratch.

    Can’t wait until I have to hack into his PC.

    • #15
    • April 2, 2014, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Dan Hanson Thatcher

    I’d be careful about drawing any conclusions about the general population from internet polls. The best you can say about this is that it tells you what users of Reddit who tend to answer polls like this think. Whether that’s representative of teens as a whole is a very open question.

    It’s kind of like surveying teens hanging out at a shopping mall on Friday evening. By definition, the teens you find there aren’t the ones working to save for college, studying, sitting at home working on projects, etc.

    Internet polls get further skewed by intentional attempts to screw with them (not insubstantial – American Idol’s voting system has been gamed by Vote For The Worst), clustering (such as when a post about it appears on a web site and those users flock to take it), etc.

    That said, this doesn’t look like a horrible list. Sad that cars are so far down – in previous generations a car would have been in the top 5, I’d think.

    • #16
    • April 2, 2014, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • Like
  17. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    Dan–definitely not a scientific poll, but it does reveal trends. Your point is one reason why I asked my six kids what they thought (ages 14-21). They all agreed it was in the realm of plausibility. They weren’t surprised by any of it (except the Abercrombie shout-out). Kids aren’t all the same, but I think the trends of future voters is definitely something to consider. Conservatives ignore stuff like this too much and then they’re sucker-punched when it comes to elections and they wonder why people vote the way they do.

    • #17
    • April 2, 2014, at 10:34 AM PDT
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  18. Jim Lion Inactive

    I was amazed at how tame all this stuff his. I’m encouraged by the current crop of teens.

    • #18
    • April 2, 2014, at 10:46 AM PDT
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  19. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    Jim Lion:
    I was amazed at how tame all this stuff his. I’m encouraged by the current crop of teens.

     It is rather tame, but goodness how painfully shallow. But I guess teens have always been that way. Except in the hard times. Then they get more serious.

    • #19
    • April 2, 2014, at 10:56 AM PDT
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  20. The Mugwump Inactive

    Every socio-economic group has its status items, as true for teens as any other group. I’m not at all concerned about material possessions because there is nothing more ephemeral than fashion. We should be more concerned about youth attitudes toward moral issues. Too many of our children are indulging in adult behaviors at the young and tender age of 13 or 14. The results can be both tragic and destructive. As go our moral standards so goes the nation. A republic can only exist on a foundation of civic virtue.

    • #20
    • April 2, 2014, at 10:57 AM PDT
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  21. tabula rasa Member

    I’m in no position to assess the validity of the items on the list. I’m old, my kids are in their late twenties and thirties, and my oldest grandchild is ten.

    The one I find deeply troubling is Snapchat and the whole idea of sending naked selfies (the “nothing is sacred” subtext is pretty scary). Ask.fm sounds troubling, but I don’t know enough to know.

    Most of the rest are just the current version of teenager-hood.

    Back in the sixties, when I was a teenager, most of my friends wanted to be grown-up. My perception is that today’s teens don’t see being grown-up as all that desirable.

    • #21
    • April 2, 2014, at 12:14 PM PDT
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  22. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister Post author

    tabula rasa:
    I’m in no position to assess the validity of the items on the list. I’m old, my kids are in their late twenties and thirties, and my oldest grandchild is ten.
    The one I find deeply troubling is Snapchat and the whole idea of sending naked selfies (the “nothing is sacred” subtext is pretty scary). Ask.fm sounds troubling, but I don’t know enough to know.
    Most of the rest are just the current version of teenager-hood.
    Back in the sixties, when I was a teenager, most of my friends wanted to be grown-up. My perception is that today’s teens don’t see being grown-up as all that desirable.

     If they do want to be grown-up, it’s to get all the benefits without understanding and preparing for the responsibilities. That’s why we have perpetual adolescence in this country. 

    • #22
    • April 2, 2014, at 2:40 PM PDT
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  23. Vance Richards Member

    4. I saw Frozen with my daughter, although at several points I did complain, “Oh no! Not another song.”

    13. I have Ray-Bans, Doc Martens (super comfortable), and some Chuck Taylor Converse sneakers.

    18. I have a car. Ok, it’s a minivan and there is a piece of molding that is being held on by duct tape.

    I guess that is not enough to be considered cool. That’s OK, because I hate things that are cool.

    • #23
    • April 2, 2014, at 5:45 PM PDT
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  24. EThompson Inactive

    Hmm … After reviewing the list, it appears the old retail adage “Everything old is new again” may be true:

    # 2, 3, 18 – Bueller?

    #7- I think 10 cents may have beat Mark Z groupies to the punch on this one.

    #9- That is so 80s!

    #13- see #9.

    :))

    • #24
    • April 2, 2014, at 7:05 PM PDT
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  25. Jules PA Member

    The King Prawn: Our teenagers may be no different than they were 30 or 40 years ago, but the culture that influences them is. It is much more crass, highly sexualized, and libertine in every way imaginable.

     I think our crass, highly sexualized, and libertine culture puts our current teenagers way “ahead” of were teens were in my youth, and not in a good way. What these kids know, think, say and do never crossed my mind at their age. never. This is not all teens…who are this precocious, but many more, than were in my youth. It takes much parental energy to deflect the culture from our youngin’s these days.

    • #25
    • April 2, 2014, at 9:01 PM PDT
    • Like