Social Media

Goodbye Teenage Fever, Hello Adulthood

Youth Adultification and The Erasure of Teenagehood

Photo by Nothing Ahead on

Is it the lack of representation in the tween/teen market? Girls as young as 11 are no longer interested in the different phases of growing up into a young woman today. From fashion to cosmetics and music interests, the young girls of today don’t care for Disney channel or KidzBop and it’s concerning from this perspective. 

Growing up we’ve all heard “stay in a child’s place” a few times. It seems that the line between the awkward years of early puberty and late teenagehood/early 20s has been crossed, but who’s to blame? The 90s had a plethora of shows and movies that catered to different youths like Moesha, Fuller House, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and so much more. The 2000s era also with Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, and That’s So Raven all being shows that painted young girls in a positive light while helping them maneuver through life’s problems. There are shows on Disney and Nickelodeon today that are having a positive impact on young and impressionable minds, but these networks aren’t as popular with their teen demographic. I remember being 12 and wearing Hannah Montana merch (backpack, t-shirt, blankets, etc…) because of her impact on me but you just don’t see the same impressions on today’s kids. 

A part of me wants to assign blame to the market and adults who portray what they think it means to be a teenager. Kids are consumers of entertainment like everyone else and when they don’t see themselves being represented in the media it’s inevitable that they will gravitate to adult-friendly music, stores, and shows because that’s the media’s target audience. Stores like Claire’s, Justice, and Forever 21 were tween heaven at a point in time, but I see 13 year olds shopping at Fashion Nova, a fast fashion brand aimed at adult women, because it’s more urban and there’s a pressure to seem more mature. Social media and the media at large have played a major role in the adultification of teen girls. We don’t filter the content they take in and as a result, Instagram models who cater to a mature audience also end up attracting the average 14 year old girl who will later emulate her idol’s makeup, clothing choices, and even music taste. The power of influence. 

There are nuances to this conversation and social media isn’t to blame solely. I don’t think celebrities are responsible for raising our kids, but there’s a bigger conversation to be had about who truly is influencing our girls. The line has been blurred and accessibility to adult content on a consistent basis will influence an impressionable middle school kid, heck I’m still easily impressionable as a 21 year old college student. Science has stated that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until we reach 25. This is evident in the ignorant decisions we make in our teens and early 20s. 

Categories: Social Media

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