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What Causes Teenagers to Become Greedy?

by Kristine Tucker, studioD

Greed can be a vice among teenagers. Teenagers often become greedy when they get used to a lifestyle that demands frequent spending, even if they don't have jobs or their own income to support their expenditures. Teens might not realize they are greedy because their friends have similar money addictions. Greed is an unhealthy perspective of money that doesn't have an easy remedy.

Sense of Entitlement

Teenagers often become greedy when they develop a sense of entitlement. Some teens feel entitled to cell phones, video games, expensive clothing, luxury cars, large homes or high-tech gadgets. Parents who give their teenagers excessive amounts of money, without ever expecting them to earn any of it, encourage this sense of entitlement. Providing teens with large amounts of spending money creates generations of financially irresponsible adults, according to family therapist Carleton Kendrick at FamilyEducation.com. Many teens are avid consumers and expect to buy frequent extravagant goods and services, even if it means their parents must buy on credit. Parents can help by cutting back on unnecessary expenditures and encouraging their teens to work for some material goods.


Some teens struggle with greed because they feel pressure to keep up with their friends. Unhealthy competition can result in a greedy lifestyle. Teenagers might feel that they need the trendiest fashions, newest electronics, and most expensive accessories to please their peers. They often associate popularity with material wealth, so those with the most have all the social benefits. Parents can help teens deal with peer pressure by discussing the issues openly and honestly. Parents might give their teens an allowance, so they have money to spend but must learn to budget and selectively choose merchandise.


Teenagers become greedy when they succumb to the bombardment of messages that promote materialism. The more television teenagers watch and the more magazines they read, the more materialistic they become, according to Jean Twenge, author of "Generation Me." Materialistic messages are also common on Internet pop-ups and teen-inspired websites, so teenagers are exposed to them daily. Ads promoting clothing, music, electronics, accessories and cars are visually appealing, so teens have a hard time saying no to material goods that will improve their way of life. Materialism can become addictive.

Parental Guilt

Parental guilt can lead to teenage greed. Some parents spend excessive amounts of money on their teens because they feel guilty for working so many hours, not being home enough or having troubled relationships. Parents struggle to balance work and family -- dual-career families are common, half of all marriages end in divorce, and almost one-third of households have single parents, according to Kendrick. Many parents feel guilty about their lifestyles, so they try to make up for it by indulging, spoiling and overspending on their teens.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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