What Do Teens Today Really Worry About? The Top 5 Issues Revealed

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This article has been deemed Radical by our teen team.  Check out the rest of our Radical Articles if you like this one!

(This is the accompanying post to the previous one about how to talk to teens.)

Teens love to talk: they love to talk online, on aim, on the phone, at school, after-school, at the mall, in the car, behind their friends back–what on earth are they talking about?…and why does sudden lock-jaw occur when parents are within a five foot radius?

I decided to see what the most popular calls were at a hotline called Teenline (where teens call in to get help from other teenagers) So what are the most popular issues? What do teens today really worry about? And why aren’t these issues brought up more with parents, counselors and teachers who can actually give advice and seek help?

1. Relationships
Teens frequently want to talk to other teens about relationships with parents, siblings, friends and teachers. This is a broad topic I know, but interactions, building relationships and friendships are extremely important to teenagers.

2. Abuse
This includes sexual, physical, verbal and neglect as types of abuse. Many teens call in for ‘friends’ or people they know who are being abused to talk about what abuse actually means. Frequently, teens want to know where is the line between parents who are yelling and verbal abuse? What are the laws on spanking children?

3. Sex
Despite the attempts of many school health classes, teens have lots of questions about pregnancy, condoms, abstinence and oral sex.

4. Drugs and Alcohol
Issues with addiction and parties come up for teens when they know of friends who might be dealing or using drugs.

5. Suicide
Unfortunately, a great number of teens think, worry about or know someone who is considering suicide. Many times teens feel isolated and alone and need someone to talk to, but do not know where to turn when they might get in trouble or have to divulge secrets they are not ready to tell.

Surprisingly, Teenline gets an equal number of male and female callers. All kinds of teens today are dealing with these issues, not just girls, not just poor kids, not just rich kids, not just kids in private school…everyone is dealing with these important, and sometimes very serious issues.

For parents, maybe you are wondering—why your teen does not talk to you about these issues. Teens feel uncomfortable talking to adults because they feel they will not understand what is going on for them today, they are afraid they will get in trouble and worry that they will be judged.

Therefore, it is important for adults to be aware that even though teens might not act like drugs or sex is a big deal to them, they do actually worry about these issues.

Be sure to check out the accompanying post to this one “Three Ways Parents Can Get Teens to Talk”, to get your teens to feel comfortable talking to you about these issues.

If you like this article, read our other Radical Parenting Articles.  If you are really inspired, think about taking the Radical Parenting Pledge..are you radical enough?


Substance abuse can be dealt with through drug addiction treatment provided in rehab centers; though often at a large expense to parents.

A teen drug rehab center specializes in helping adolescents overcome their drug addiction.

If you liked this article you might also like…

Radical Family Workbook

Why Teens Stress

Tags: Communication, Health, Relationships, School, and Teens

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38 Responses to “What Do Teens Today Really Worry About? The Top 5 Issues Revealed”

  1. Ashley Swift
    December 5, 2007 at 4:18 pm #

    Scaremongering at its finest. WE DO NOT THINK ABOUT SUICIDE. At 17, I assume I am still eligible for teenager status?
    I am sick of people who are NOT teenagers, with no evidence to back up their claims, telling the world that teenagers are all thinking about suicide. Nor do we all think about drugs and alcohol.

    God, I was going to right some intelligent and profound argument, but what’s the point? You can never make someone think they’re wrong when they think they’re right. It’s just impossible.

  2. Vanessa
    December 5, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    hi ashley

    Actually suicide is the fifth most popular call that Teenline gets. I was actually surprised too, because I did and do not have any teens friends who have thought about suicide. Yet, this hotline which has only teen callers gets many many calls from teens who want to kill themselves. I couldnt believe it, they get more about suicide then cutting, eating disorders and even school combined. So I agree with you that I do not know anyone, but shockingly–and unfortunately the statistics say differently.

  3. Greg
    December 5, 2007 at 5:07 pm #

    Sorry to say that doesn’t prove anything. Of course a lot of the people that call this Teenline are considering suicide. Where else can you go for that kind of discussion, but the fact is that that’s only a popular topic among people who call in. Every other teen that didn’t call in isn’t thinking about suicide.

  4. Vanessa
    December 5, 2007 at 6:43 pm #

    absolutely right, many of the other teens that called in were dealing with relationships issues, abuse, drugs and alcohol while never thinking about or considering suicide. The point of the article is not to scare adults, nor is it to argue that the every teen thinks of suicide. I am sorry if it was misinterpreted as that, and readily point out that not every teenager is thinking of suicide, but there are enough calls and attempts for people to be aware of it as an issue for some teens.

    I simply want to emphasize the point that teenagers are considering many aspects of their lives in private and may not be opening up to adults around them. Parents need to take note of this and try to keep an open relationship so if teens are feeling upset they have someone to talk to without breaking the teen’s privacy.

  5. Scott
    December 5, 2007 at 8:18 pm #

    Teenline statistics are not representative of teens across the country, nor does the author claim them to be. If you don’t think teen suicide is a serious issue however, you are deluding yourself. If you don’t like Teenline statistics, lets see was the National Institute for Mental Health has to say shall we?

    – Suicide is the third leading cause of death among each of the following age groups: 10-14, 15-19, 20-24.
    – Four times as many males in the lower two age group died by suicide than did females, and six time more males in the last age group than females.

    You can see more details here: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention.shtml#children

    Certainly no one is suggesting every teen thinks about suicide. But to claim no teens think about suicide, or even every teen that does not call Teenline, is equally absurd and naive. Thank goodness you and your friends don’t contemplate suicide. But don’t think you are representative of the national population either.

  6. Chrissie
    December 6, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    Of course this is what you would get out of a TeenHELP line. That’s the reason you go and talk to them. It’s for HELP! You wouldn’t go call Teenline to talk about what you were going to do Saturday night, would you? No.
    And while I know that Suicide, drugs, abuse..things like that are pretty serious, it’s not all that we worry about. As a teenager myself, I can honestly tell you that Abuse, Sex, Drugs and Alcohol, and Suicide rarely ever cross my mind.

  7. Vanessa
    December 6, 2007 at 2:10 pm #

    “as a teenager myself, I can honestly tell you that Abuse, Sex, Drugs and Alcohol, and Suicide rarely ever cross my mind”

    chrissie: this is the best thing anyone has posted so far, it is great to hear that many teens are not thinking of these things!

  8. Scott2
    January 8, 2008 at 12:14 pm #

    Maybe a majority of teens are not considering suicide, and maybe the stats are higher on a teen helpline. But as a high-schooler, a freshman at my school commited suicide. And that school year it was on my mind every day. My step-brother also just commited suicide. Now, try and tell me that suicide isn’t on the minds of his closest friends and especially on the mind of his younger sister, who now has to go to school every day and NOT see her brother.
    Maybe you don’t think about it Ashley. But teenagers do. Maybe not a majority. But a good number do. And even if one teenager is thinking about it, that is enough to be concerned.

  9. annoymous
    March 29, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    im 14 yrs old and have thought of sucide a number of times . ive thought of taking a overdose on paractmol n ive even wrote a sucide note

  10. annoymous
    March 29, 2008 at 8:36 am #

    and i might even do it, if things keep up in this stupid life

  11. Beth
    March 29, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I was concerned for “annoymous” and I just want to give him some hope – every day brings a chance for new beginnings. Don’t give up on this “stupid life” – go out and give and live!!

  12. Beth
    March 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    One more note for annoymous – I just found this and thought it was beautiful!!
    ” Any person can fight the battle of just one day. It is when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities, Yesterday and Tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of Today that drives a person mad, it is the remorse or bitterness of something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.Therefore, seize Today. Carpe diem. Use what you have learned from Yesterday, remember what you hope for Tomorrow, and make Today the best possible day. Today only comes once”

  13. Vanessa
    March 30, 2008 at 8:44 am #


    I am so sorry you are having a tough time right now, I totally understand really low points and feeling like there is no hope. You are not alone in this and might help to talk to someone, even if you are not comfortable talking to your parents (which I really understand) there are a lot of hotlines you can call and talk to other teens about it, or you can even chat with them via aim? here are some ideas,

    Just be kind to yourself and realize you are not alone!


    and I used to chat with the kids at teenline a lot when I was going through rough times when I was younger, they are really cool and listen, you can call or just chat online and they will listen (even my 16 year old sister works there and I talked to her about you, she said to call she would love to talk!)

  14. Andrew and Judy
    April 12, 2008 at 1:23 am #

    I was suicidal in my teenage years. On one occasion I wrestled with my older brother and sister over a gun that they took away from me. In my early twenties I used a car and drove it into an enbankment to only hurt my shoulder in that accident. I am glad to-day that the Lord had mercy on me in my ignorance, because had I suceeded I would of had no hope of eternity. Since about thirty two years ago the Lord saved me and gave me life to live to the fulness, with peace and hope and love and joy that is unspeakable and full of the glory of God through Jesus Christ my Lord.

  15. Vanessa
    April 12, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    I am so sorry that you struggled so much, and am very happy you were able to find something to pull you back to life and to hope.

  16. Too old to remember being a teen-ager
    May 5, 2008 at 1:20 pm #

    It’s all too often that we try to look to ourselves or to people around us for the solutions to what perplexes us. This isn’t a teenage malady. It will continue into adulthood. If we seek after Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior then we will be assured of two things: grace and peace while here and eternal salvation after this earthly life is over.

    Psalm 138

  17. chrissie wagner
    May 27, 2008 at 6:52 am #

    So glad to hear about Teenline I will pass it on to our readers.

  18. kim thach
    June 5, 2008 at 6:59 am #

    teens ttoday are so diverse and different from eachother. things in this world today can cause so much confusion to teens. but the world is beautiful and not something to give up on. live life to love life and enjoy your time here.

  19. Carina
    November 3, 2008 at 10:06 am #

    I do agree with everything everyone has said. Yes teens think about suicide. Not everyone of them but of course they are some with serious cases.

    Now what I do know is that the teens that call those helplines of course are going to call for the issues that these helplines advertise you to call for.

    What I think teens need is other helplines. Family Helplines… Sex Related helplines…Trying-To-Firgure-Out-Your-Future Helplines.

    And to be frank with you. I’m turning 16 and probably one of the biggest topics and definitely higher than suicide, is sex. It’s happening alot and everyday, teen girls values on chastity get lower and lower. It seems like not such a big deal anymore. And everyone who I’ve talked to that has had sex says, “It’s totally over-rated, and nothing special.”

    And of course, it’s not only sexual intercourse we’re talking about. Boys and dating and relationships and the mostly the How-To’s in general. I know if there was a helpline for all those things, me and my friends would call it.

    Why wouldn’t I call a 24 hour helpline before going on a date and didn’t know what to wear, or what to do, how far to go..yada yada…

  20. Tiffany Bloomer
    December 15, 2008 at 4:51 pm #

    plz can u help i need help to get through being depressed all the time because i dont know wat to do so can you plz help me because i am depressed all the time help me plz!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Vanessa
    December 16, 2008 at 10:12 am #


    You should go talk to someone! Anyone, if you do not want to talk to your parents, go to a counselor, an older sibling, an uncle, someone who can be there with you so you do not feel so alone. Sometimes depression is a chemical thing and you might just need to see a doctor, do not suffer alone, there are people who can help,


  22. rosa
    February 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    diz really helped me a lot thanx u rock n i will always member diz i promice my whole life
    n ya teens need to stop thinking bout sex cuz dat ruence ur life…….

  23. Jasmine
    February 24, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    I think sex is definetely a worry for teens. But it comes alongside a lot of other things, like exams and friends, and weight and appearance! especially, and what to wear on saturday night, and money, and our futures, and whether the lads are driving too fast, and whether i’ll kill someone driving around in my car.
    Suicide and drugs and alcohol are out there…but i dont think theyre the most common worry, or the ones that we think about most. I have more friends with eating disorders than who are contemplating/have attempted suicide.
    i think maybe it would be helpful to have some kind of open questionnaire, to get a more balanced view of worries, than simply looking on a teen helpline. Purely because…i wouldn’t ring a helpline about what to wear on a saturday night. In fact, i dont think i’d ring a helpline full stop.

  24. Stevie
    April 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I agree with Jasmine there are alot of things that come befor those extreems. sure some poeple think about suicide but thats just one part i think death in general is a worry. I know alot of people who worry about there school work and not doing/understanding there homework, another is how to dress,
    you can’t dress to bold or your attention seeking,
    you can’t wear to much black or your going emo/goth
    can’t wear to lose of a shirt or your a loswer and you deff can’t wear a shirt thats too tight and your a slut… the list goes on and on…
    so ya there are simpler worries on teens minds.

  25. Courtney
    February 3, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    I agree with stevie because teens dont always think about killing themselves they also think about wat they their going to wear whos their next boyfriend or girl friend is and who is the next person to gossip about .Besides all of that before you want to commit suicide something has to happen to make them fell that way to want to kill themselves.

  26. Brandon Architect
    August 1, 2010 at 2:54 am #

    I’m 16 and I can honestly say the number one thing I worry about is school work. School is stressful. I don’t worry about suicide because, like the majority of teens out there, I’m content with my life and strive to make the best of it and become a successful adult. I don’t worry about sex because sex isn’t something to worry about. I don’t worry about drugs or alcohol because I don’t do drugs or drink (like 80% of all teens I know). I don’t worry about relationships unless there is a problem with one of my friends or family members, but that applies to anyone who has a social life and should not be listed under an article titled “What do teens really worry about?” because the title implies that the topics listed are somewhat exclusive to teens or that teens are the prime group of people affected by these topics, but relationships affect every group of people about the same. I personally am not abused at home or otherwise, but I do know people who are, so abuse is just about the only thing in this article that belongs there in my opinion. Suicide is the hot topic these days though, and I would like to stress the fact that the majority of teens alive in the United States do NOT think about suicide. This is simply a myth. Regardless of how many calls Teenline gets about suicide. I can say this because I am a teen and know many other teens. Also all adults were, at some point, teens. If the majority of teens think or have thought about suicide, that means that the majority of all people at one point have thought about suicide (note that when I say ‘think’ I mean ‘have seriously considered’). This is simply not true. The claim that most teens are depressed or suicidal is so ridiculous that my friends actually joke about how we can’t have a bad day or we will become heavily depressed because we are teens. I do not take this topic lightly, though, because I do understand that there are many people (not teens, PEOPLE) that do consider suicide and are very troubled. I express sympathy for these individuals and do not in any way attempt to belittle the actual issue with our humor, but to belittle the association with suicide to teens. I am disturbed that an issue like this is associated to the group of people known as teens more than any other, along with drug abuse, sexual activity, and all around foolish decisions. Some people even view teens as lesser people because of these stereotypes. This is insulting. In my opinion.

  27. jhet plocios
    September 16, 2010 at 2:28 am #

    Hi Brandon!
    Your opinions are right.Age is not a basis for judging us teens.Yes,we are in the stage of knowing our self;our identity,but it is not the stage where we are in that matters.We make our own life,it is our own self who decides of what we will be,of what we want to be and of what we can be.If we make limits to ourselves and we know what is good and what is bad to us,there is nothing to be worried about.Moreover,if we live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and treasure His words,even though we will fall a thousand times still we know how to stand,for in Him alone is our strength forged.
    We teens will be the future makers of what will be futures of the generations next to us.

  28. Katherine
    February 3, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    So I’m a teen, and I don’t really think much about any of those five things. I think about school work, and being places on time mostly. Like, for instance, I like to spend Saturday nights out, and then I have to get up and be at church at 10 AM on Sunday. I know that I am different than most teens, because of all of the things that I have been through that normal kids haven’t, but I never would have guessed that normal teens think about that.

  29. Danielle
    February 8, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Hi im danielle iam 20 it hasnt been long since i was a teen! but i Kw one answer to every need and that is Jesus Christ he is the healer of all pain all confusion, all divison, all strife, all abuse all depression, anger, hurt. every stripe he bore on his back was for every teen every adult out there so that You can have peace, joy, LOVE, FORGIVENESS, Patienece, longsuffering, self control, kindness, gentleness, goodness and faithfulness. and have eternity in heaven. Teens today you are the generation to come and if the Devil can steal your life whether it be through drugs sucide or anything he is going to bc you are the chosen Generation. 1 Peter 2:9. you are the chosen Generation to Be For Jesus and if the devil can stop it he will! every single teen in the world You have a pupose and you are somebody i got into alot of stuff when i was a teen but Jesus Christ my Lord Got a hold of me and changed me and i know if he changed me he can do the same for you. Jesus has not come to Judge or point you out but to save you.John 12: 42-48.if you read this I hope in some way you will wanna my my Jesus cause he can be yours to hes waiting with arms wide open ask him today to come into your heart and forgive you from your past! Have a new start in Jesus name.

  30. Danielle
    February 8, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Idk why im on here but I believe the Lord put me on here for a reason and it might be Jst for you but depression is something that every person can battle. my husband went through depression really bad when he was 19 and the only way to get rid of it is by Jesus! there is no medicine for it Jesus is you medicine! If you dont know Jesus as you personal savior call his name say the name Jesus and see what happens BC in the Name Of Jesus that Deppresion Has to Leave in the Name of Jesus! Jesus heres your cry and depression is something that takes your joy makes u unhappy! I claim right now you will call out Jesus’s name and he will be there to comfort u. And let me tell you this I dont know you but I do know that this battle of depression is not you battle Jesus will fight for you, you just have to give it to him! JESUS LOVES YOU TIFFANY.

  31. depression
    March 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. I think it is also important that parents of teenagers give their kids plenty of opportunity to talk about some of these issues. Sometimes, when there is no open communication in a family, depressed teenagers can really feel alone and feel that they have to seek help outside of the home.
    Depression is a really serious issue and often starts in childhood and continues into adulthood if not treated.

  32. ashlee
    April 8, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Good article that those are top on teens but we forget the most important is TIME…. Worrying about School work ontop of a job ontop of spending time with friends… I am 26 years old with a child of my own and I feel that parents forget what its like to be a teenager….
    Teen: “I Just want to SLEEP IN”
    mom or dad: “whats wrong? you on drugs? You pregnant? What are you hiding?”
    Teen: “Please Im just tired.”

    Tell me Im wrong…. Hormones with balancing everything else can make a persons mood change… maynot always be drugs or partying or sex….I think we just need to pay more attention to the work load our child has and yes because they are only 14 doesn’t make them still a child… Hell Im still a child!!

  33. tayna
    April 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    I love the statement, “why does sudden lock-jaw occur when parents are within a five foot radius?” Isn’t that the truth? I didn’t want my parents to know what I’m up to because they had a problem with everything I did. Once my dad took my car away because I went to the mall – huh? I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that (I was 17 at the time!!)

  34. Emmitt Hollin
    April 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    While I think it’s harder to grow up today because there are more bad choices that can be easily made, when I look at the list you provided, except for abuse, the rest are choices. I did some stupid things when I was young but they can’t hold a candle to the dumb, dumb, dangerous things my son did at the same age. I tried my best to save him from himself. I don’t know what the answer is…

  35. Ellynd
    June 16, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    I worry about my friends a lot. I’ve seen kids my age get in car accidents, die of drug overdoses. It’s all too much bad stuff too soon. I also worry about stupid stuff like my weight and my hair, too.

  36. AlexC
    May 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

     Well then I suppose you are just the one perfect teen out of all of us I am a 16 year old junior and i can not count the amount of times i have seen or heard my friends talk about drinking or actually being drunk off their behinds. I have had to talk to friends out of committing suicides. As perfect as you must be there actually are teens who this would be the top 5 for so before posting saying whoever wrote this article is a liar why dont you think outside the box and yes i would also include this as my top 5 because yes i have drank and i have done drugs i have thought that life wasnt worth it and relationships do play a role in my life. Enjoy your perfect sheltered life while you can because the real world isnt as easy as posting on an article talking about how perfect you are.

  37. Donna
    April 5, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Well probably not you,but i know a lot of people who go through suicidal thoughts and things like that. So,actually you are the one that is wrong.


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