our everyday life

What Teens Watch

by Erica Loop, studioD

Between movies with friends, watching TV at home and browsing the web for online videos, most teens watch an array of media daily. Understanding what your teen is watching can help you monitor what types of content she is exposed to, and help to mediate any negative effects through discussions on specific scenes or shows.


Teens often watch movies that are popular with adults and have complex, suggestive or violent content. HealthyChildren.org notes that the movies teens watch might depict sexual scenarios, drug or alcohol use and aggressive acts. Top teen movie genres include horror, action, science fiction and suspense types of film. These genres often include graphic depictions of violent acts, with sci-fi films averaging 55 deaths and 37 killings per the typical horror flick.


The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that the typical teen watches roughly three hours of TV each day. With, as the AAP reports, 65 percent of adolescents having a television in their bedrooms, many teens' TV viewing habits may go unknown or unsupervised. That said, when media research organization Nielson polled teens on their TV viewing habits, the group found that adolescents largely watch programs that are similar to what their adult parents viewed. For example, a top TV show such as "American Idol" was a favorite with both teens and adults alike.

The Internet

Today's teens don't just watch programs on TV or dramatic scenes in movies. It's likely that your teen also spends time viewing media online with YouTube or other similar sites. Teens not only watch videos and clips on YouTube, but can also make their own movies and share them with friends. According to statistics at the Pew Research Center, 6 percent of teens have a YouTube account. Additionally, teens, like adults, might turn to web-based services such as Netflix for watching original television-type programs. Internet viewing allows your teen to watch a favorite video or program without the constant interruptions of commercials. Although there is certainly a fair share of advertising online, your teen can quickly skip commercials or close banner ads during an Internet show.


On Aug. 1, 1981, MTV changed the way that teens listen to music. While teens certainly listen to music on their iPods, the radio and online, they also watch music videos. Whether it's on the web, on a music TV network or in concert movies, today's teens can enjoy seeing, as well as watching, their favorite tunes. Some child-oriented organizations, such as the AAP, note that music videos often contain images of sexual situations or substance use that may influence teens in negative ways.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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