Parenting Teenagers: How to Keep Up With Teen Fads

What Parents Can Do to Stay in Tune with the Latest Teen Trends

A mother and her daughter use a laptop.
A mother and her daughter use a laptop. Compassionate Eye Foundation/Getty Images

Teenagers are often the leaders in trends. Fashion, music and technology fads often hit the teen scene first because they are aware of them and want to be seen as cool among their friends.

It is important for parents to keep up with the trends of their teens. Not only does it give you something to connect with and talk about, but your insight can also keep your teen from making bad decisions.

Teen Fads vs. Trends

Teenagers are infamous for being on the cutting edge of current fads and trends.

The reason why teens are on the lookout for something new and different is almost a given: they are working on their identity.

Your teen wants to identify with something that makes them feel good about themselves. Something new comes out, all the teens and their peers check it out. If it sticks for a little while, it’s a fad. If it sticks around for a longer time, it becomes a trend.

Harmless and Harmful Teen Fads

Many fads are harmless. Back in my day, people cut the sleeves and collars off their sweatshirts and wore them inside-out. No big deal. This fad did not become a trend and is no longer seen, which is often the case with fashion.

Today, everyone owns an iPod and text their friends on cell phones. These fads will either fade with new technology or become a trend and stay around for awhile.

More often, we see new apps becoming fads and teens moving from one 'latest and greatest' app to the next within months or weeks.

Parents should be aware of what kids are using on their phones and other devices because some of these apps and behaviors (like sexting) can become harmful to them or others.

Some teen fads are clearly dangerous and can lead to serious trouble or harm.

Huffing is one dangerous fad that comes to mind.

Some kids can get pulled into a dangerous behavior, such as drug use, because it is the current fad. This is another good reason for parents to be conscientious of the warning signs of drug use.

Keeping Up with Teen Fads

While keeping up with teen fads can sometimes be exhausting for parents - especially for parents of preteens who are just getting started - it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Just because you can’t pick and choose which fads or trends your teen will pick up, doesn’t mean you don’t get to add your opinion and use the fad as a teachable moment.

Tips for Discovering Teen Fads:

  • Talk to your teen about the current things they are doing and what interests them.
  • Pay attention to the media your teen is using. Read their magazines, check-out their social networking pages and watch their television shows. You don’t have to know everything, but knowing what your teen is talking about when they tell you about the current 'in' thing will help keep communication open.
  • If a fad doesn’t go against your morals or family values, allow it. You don’t have to be a permissive parent to pick and choose your battles and not to sabotage your teen’s social life.
  • Get your teen involved in something they enjoy. Art, dance, sports, karate, etc. can influence some of the fads they may pick up.
  • Sit back and enjoy it. Take pictures and save the memories. The best part will be sharing those with your grandchildren.

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