Teens’ Self-Image Shaped by Friends, Family, TV

March 26, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Magazines | Media & Entertainment | Retail & E-Commerce | Television | Youth & Gen X

Some 8 in 10 teenagers (81%) say they are at least somewhat happy?- 36% say very happy – and they list girlfriends/boyfriends, religion, friends and parents as positive influences, according to a recent OTX Research and Intelligence Group?study.

Relationships with friends ranked highest in the areas in which teens feel happy (85% put this category in the top two positions), followed by personal talents or abilities (80%):


Moreover, teens tend to be happier with how they look online (e.g., their MySpace profile) than their actual looks – 78% vs. 68%.

Below, additional findings from the study.

Physical Appearance

Physical appearance is a significant aspect of teenagers’ lives:

  • Some 61% of teens said they worry about their looks.
  • 48% said they compare the way they look with how friends and peers look.
  • Half of teens surveyed agreed that looks/physical appearance is very important in “being respected by others,” and 60% said it was very imortant to “the way you feel about yourself.”
  • Looks ranked lower in importance for other areas:
    • “Being liked by others” (33%)
    • “Getting ahead in the workplace” (30%)
    • “Making lots of money” (27%)

To improve physical appearance and feel better, teens are spending an average of $27 per month on personal hygiene/beauty products:


Popular products are deodorant or antiperspirant (used by 84% of respondents on a daily basis), whitening toothpastes (55%), and lip balm/moisturizer (54%).

Positive Influences

Teens were asked which influences made them feel better about themselves:


  • A little over half (51%) of teens cited TV shows as a positive influence, but people (girlfriend/boyfriend, parents, and teachers) were even greater influences.
  • Low-ranking positive influences were magazines (38%) and advertising on TV or elsewhere (33%).

‘Would You Rather…’

Given a set of two related yet conflicting statements, teens’ choices were heavily weighted toward what might be considered “responsible” choices:

  • “Get a college degree” (90%)?vs. “win American Idol” (10%)
  • “Exercise to lose weight” (91%) vs. “Take diet pills to lose weight” (9%)
  • “Have a lot of friends” (76%) vs. “have a lot of money” (24%)
  • “Feel good” (69%) vs. “look good” (31%)

About the study: The OTX Teen Topix study was conducted in conjunction with the Intelligence Group; they surveyed 750 teens (age 13-17) on the topic of self-image.


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