Narcissistic teens are becoming more common, according to research. Studies show a 30% increase (in the last 30 years) in teenage narcissism. More kids today think they’re more awesome than everyone else.
What is this happening? Many teens struggle with narcissism because they constantly engage with social media, reality TV, and technology. These platforms convey the message that teens 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 kids should 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 they’re also 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, teenage pregnancy and crime rates have gone down. And I strongly believe teens hunger to be part of a sacrificial mission. But in this digital, postmodern world, teenagers are experiencing a new epidemic of narcissism that has major consequences.
How to Help Narcissistic Teens
So how can youth workers address this narcissism epidemic among youth? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Show them how to have empathy for others.
First, focus outward. Empathy reduces self-focus and places our thoughts on other people (and on helping them).
2. More teens need to hear more adults talk about virtues.
Invite Christian adults to talk to your youth group members about kindness, manners, integrity, humility, commitment, and thankfulness.
3. Make entitled teens do difficult, labor-intensive work.
A little bit of sweat equity and real-world experience goes a long way.