What Tales Do Teens Want to See in Movies and Television set?

Today’s American adolescents reportedly commit most of their display screen time on social media (these kinds of as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram), followed by other things to do such as gaming, streaming movies and Tv, and messaging mates and family members.

Although some mom and dad and older people may worry about social media having Gen Z’s time away from extra “productive” things to do with pals and household, there’s at the very least one good motive for it: Social media is the spot wherever Gen Z really feel they can locate the most genuine and diverse content material, according to our recent analyze at the Middle for Students & Storytellers.

Meanwhile, movies and tv shows commonly concentrating on American adolescents are usually produced with no a fully commited consideration of their views. It’s no surprise that conventional tv and film articles just does not really feel very genuine to teens.


To tackle this considerable gap and make teenagers’ voices be read by Hollywood material creators, our study workforce surveyed 662 youngsters (ages 13 to 18) across the United States and directly requested them what topics they wish to see in entertainment media.

Their responses?

American young adults now want to see Hollywood written content with reliable, inclusive, and favourable storytelling that superior displays their legitimate life and people. Exclusively, when requested about what they’d like to see portrayed in the demonstrates and movies they check out, these are the matters they stated.

Hopeful, uplifting tales about people today beating the odds. Who doesn’t like a great tale of conquering adversity? Quite a few present portrayals of teenager daily life emphasize the destructive happenstances of their lifestyle activities and the ensuing troubles that arise from them, these kinds of as The Starvation Online games. Fairly than observing media that dwell on trauma and suffering, teenagers are wishing to see stories inspiring hope and encouragement with figures beating the odds that are piled from them.

Stories about people today with lives contrary to their possess. This type of content was tied for most common among the teenagers in our study. Immediately after all, the teenage decades are a phase of getting oneself and mastering additional about other people today and the more substantial modern society. Storytelling in media—with engaging visuals and sounds—grants the great option to convey to and let the audience engage with people genuine and varied narratives.

For case in point, the media features a cisgender, heterosexual individual a safe and enjoyable channel to understand and listen to far more about the daily life of another person who identifies as a aspect of the LGBTQ+ local community. It offers them with insights they may have problems obtaining somewhere else.

“Even nowadays, most flicks or tv shows consist of quite handful of men and women of colour. If there are individuals of color they are ordinarily portrayed pretty stereotypically,” stated a 16-year-aged female respondent of Asian qualifications.

“I want to see tales of different ethnicities who live diverse lives than I’m used to looking at,” reported a 15-calendar year-previous feminine respondent of Middle East/North African qualifications.

Superheroes. Superhero written content, these types of as that discovered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (shoutout to their recent strides in illustration), carries on to fascinate teenage audiences. From improved and competent people to morally gray opponents, these tales captivate teens in fantastical ways, while nonetheless getting impactful undertones that relate to real activities.

Mental health. Psychological health and fitness is crucial for teen everyday living. The hottest figures discover that around 1 in 10 youth in the U.S. are suffering from depression, which has severely impaired their social existence and that 11.5% of youth (or more than 2.7 million) are enduring extreme significant depression. For their third prime decision of subject, teens are wanting to see mental wellbeing troubles depicted and addressed in what they look at. 

“A whole lot of videos/Tv displays portray adolescents as moody, sexy, disrespectful, self-absorbed, or forever addicted to their phones. This is a horrendous generalization of an complete age group based on a couple persons that fit the stereotype,” mentioned a 17-year-previous nonbinary, white respondent. “The fact is that a large amount of teens deal with despair, nervousness, pressure from their parents, and/or even abuse at property or university.”

Household everyday living. Modern society generally can make the assumption that young adults are striving difficult for autonomy and really don’t want a great deal to do with their families. Although household could look distinct for distinctive teenagers, a the greater part of our respondents ranked relatives everyday living as their fourth sought after subject matter in the media. There is a growing wish to see their household units and relationships mirrored in what they enjoy. Even if fleeting, times of mother and father or caregivers possessing fruitful and intimate conversations with teenager characters can be impactful.

Moreover, when questioned no matter whether they’d choose to see escapist or additional true-to-lifestyle flicks and television reveals, youngsters across all demographics resoundingly turned down aspirational written content that valorizes fame and fiscal obtain that Hollywood made use of to popularize in the early to mid-2000s. This features exhibits like Gossip Woman, iCarly, and Hannah Montana

Alternatively, additional teenagers opted for enjoyment and escapist written content (37.8% of respondents), serious-lifestyle difficulties that impression culture (21%), and relatable material (19.6%).

Teenagers’ rejection of aspirational articles alerts a considerable shift in their definition of good results and their worldviews, which vary from former generations a person or two a long time in the past. Perhaps the latest rise of social media performs a significant job in reshaping adolescents’ perceptions and flavor.

These results are telling us that opposite to stereotypical notions of teenage angst and self-absorption, in particular in our present-day elaborate socio-political landscape, adolescents are leaning toward stories that give hope and know-how of others while also remaining exciting and reliable for their age.

Taken jointly, our findings emphasize teenagers’ visible motivation for media experiences that mirror a world characterised by diversity, genuineness, and uplifting experiences—a need to have that has seemingly not been fulfilled by current Hollywood articles, nor been deemed alongside the popularity of social media. 

Stories have the ability to consciously and unconsciously condition our imagining. Tales can push conversations and inspire us to request information about significant subjects. For instance, in a single of our preceding studies, 88% of surveyed teens spoke about psychological wellbeing subject areas, and 92% described searching up psychological health and fitness info immediately after seeing the well-liked Tv present 13 Factors Why.

But, most importantly, tales need to be relatable and genuine to authentic men and women and real life.

As Hollywood ponders their following massive strike for adolescent audiences, the initial action ought to constantly be listening to what adolescents have to say.