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Teenage Narcissism Gone Wild

Studies show there has been a 30% increase (in the last 30 years) in teenage narcissism.  More kids today think they are more awesome than everyone else.  Many teens struggle with narcissism because they are constantly faced with social media, reality tv and technology that tells them they are stars and entitled to do and say whatever they want.

Children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1 value. Fame ranked 15th in 1997.- Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace

And we (culture, teachers, parents, youth workers and coaches) only reinforce this idea that they have to think of themselves as incredibly special and deserve a trophy for everything.  Consequently, psychologists conclude that teens not only feel a sense of entitlement but are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have a very hopeful and positive view of today’s teens.  In fact over the past 10 years, teenage pregnancy and crime rates have gone down.  And I strongly believe teens have this hunger to be a part of a sacrificial mission.  But now in the digital, postmodern world, teenagers are now experiencing a new epidemic of narcissism that is effecting them all.  

So how can youth workers address this narcissistic problem among our fellow youth?

Here are a few suggestions:

–  show them how to have empathy for others

–  more teens need to hear more adults talk about  kindness, manners, integrity, humility, commitment and thankfulness

–  make entitled teens do difficult, labor intensive work

–  teach on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.3-12)

–  invite teens to talk about why and what they are gratitude for.  One of the best ways to combat entitlement is getting students to share: what they already have and what they take for granted.  Expressing gratitude is the opposite of being entitled.  Gratitude forces teens to reflect on what they already have, instead of what they “deserve”.

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Questions for my fellow youth worker friends:

Do you think today’s teens are narcissistic?  or do you think they show an insane ability to demonstrate selflessness?   How do you think self-esteem and narcissism are different?
What ways do you deal with this epidemic of narcissism within your youth ministry?

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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3 comments

  1. Just started a new series in Philippians and checking out paula perspective on the pursuit of joy in comparison to our cultures options. Make yourself appear better than everyone else—look like you have it together—own stuff—- I showed a stat on antidepressants in our culture….and asked whether it seems like the solutions to happiness that our culture puts out are working?

    Loe the post and a reminder that we continue to point both our students, their parents, our leaders to finding joy in CHrist above anything this life has to offer—- so worth the time and energy. Keep the great posts coming Jeremy.

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