This post: 10 Great TED Talks for Teens to Help Them Feel Less Alone and Empowered
Written by: Marybeth Bock
As a parent of teenagers, there’s literally nothing worse than realizing your teen is struggling and you don’t have the power to fix it.
Whether your teen tearfully confesses to you that they’re lonely, that they don’t have many (or any) friends, that they’re feeling left out, or that suddenly, for seemingly no reason at all, their friends have turned into “frenemies,” it’s heartbreaking knowing you can’t swoop down and make it all right. As a parent, we’re left wishing there was a band-aid big enough to fix some of our big kid’s problems and it leaves us feeling helpless and disheartened, especially considering we feel everything our kids feel.
Study Shows Teen Loneliness is On the Rise
The sad truth is that teens today feel far more lonely than teens did just a decade ago. Even before they faced the isolation of the pandemic, teens around the world had been experiencing increasing loneliness.
A December 2021 report from the Journal of Adolescence found that the psychological well-being of teens around the world began to decline after 2012 in conjunction with the rise of smartphone access and increased internet use.
As smartphone usage became more widespread, teens started spending less time interacting face-to-face and far more time connecting with others via social media. And, given that social media doesn’t provide the emotional intimacy in-person interaction does, it’s no wonder it spawned a wave of loneliness among teens.
Teens Can Feel Lonely for a Variety of Reasons
But teens’ obsession with social media and the internet isn’t the only reason they’re lonely. There are a host of reasons they can feel isolated.
For starters, “teenagering” is HARD. Teens are in a challenging and awkward phase of life (we all remember those years), and it’s easy to feel self-conscious and have low self-esteem. It’s also a time when self-comparison, teasing, bullying, and the desire to fit in take hold, which makes this stage of life even harder.
Pile on the fact that they’re teetering between childhood and adulthood and expectations from teachers, coaches, bosses and even parents are pushing kids to “adult” perhaps before they’re ready and it can make just about any teen feel alone on occasion.
If your teen is feeling lonely, it can be helpful for them to hear personal stories from others who have felt the same way during their teen years and how they used that experience to become stronger, wiser and more self-assured.
Don’t let your teen suffer in silence, pass along these incredibly helpful TED talks for teens to help them feel far less alone and far more understood and empowered!
10 TED Talks for Teens to Help Them Feel Less Alone and Empowered
I’m 17 | Kate Simonds | TEDxBoise | 4,027, 369 Views
One of our favorite TED Talks for teens is Kate Simonds. Her TED Talk will really hit home with any teen who has ever felt like no one is listening to them or taking them seriously because they are “only a teenager” – especially the adults in their life. Kate Simonds brilliantly reminds teens that they should embrace their “out of the box” creativity and push for more of a voice at home, in their schools and communities.
Overcoming Rejection, When People Hurt You & Life Isn’t Fair | Darryll Stinson | TEDxWileyCollege | 2,004,497 views
With a long record of community outreach, leadership development, and communications success for leading organizations, Darryll Stinson uses his personal story of rejection, drug addiction, and even thoughts of suicide to teach how to use rejection as a powerful tool to discover your true and complete identity. Darryll’s powerful message is that by understanding who we are and what we are uniquely gifted and created to do, we can process the sting of rejection in a much more healthy way and turn that pain into strength to become a better version of ourselves. Great for any teen who is feeling hurt from losing a friend, being cut from a team, or being bullied or teased in any way.
Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome | Ty Tashiro | TEDxNashville | 100,554 views
Ty Tashiro, Ph.D., author and award-winning college professor, reveals why the psychological traits that make people socially awkward are the same traits that propel them toward extraordinary achievements. Through lighthearted stories about his socially awkward childhood and adulthood, he explains why a unique perspective and an uncommon enthusiasm is essential for achieving our awesome potential. He specifically dives into the awkwardness of middle school! This talk is for any teen who feels (or has ever felt) socially awkward.
How Do You Find Self-Worth? | Dr. Lisa Strohman | TEDxGrandCanyonUniversity | 36,676 views
Dr. Lisa Strohman is a clinical psychologist, author, public speaker, and the founder and director of Digital Citizen Academy, which educates students, educators, and parents on the issues resulting from technology use and misuse. Dr. Strohman has spent more than a decade working with teens and families to address challenges with student mental health and well-being. Her TEDtalk will help teens feel far more worthy, no matter what messages are being conveyed on social media.
Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a model – Cameron Russell | 674,531 views
Runway model Cameron Russell’s honest presentation is for any teen who struggles with insecurity because they feel they don’t fit the mold of “beautiful” or “handsome.” She shares an insider’s perspective on what we see in media images that will resonate with teens who feel lacking when comparing themselves to peers and influencers. A must-watch for all teens!
Life Lessons from the Youngest Person to Travel to Every Country | Lexie Alford | TEDxKlagenfurt | 1,818,912 views
At 21 years of age, Lexie Alford broke the Guinness World Record for the youngest person to travel to every country in the world. She shares stories from her adventures around the world to inspire others, especially young women, to follow their dreams, get out of their comfort zone, and stimulate personal growth.
The Art of Being Your Own Best Friend | Carissa Karner | TEDxBelmontShore |113,685 views
In this engaging talk, psychotherapist Carissa Karner talks about how she learned to convert the idea of self-love into the tangible actions of befriending yourself. A wonderfully positive and empowering watch for any teenager who has ever felt shunned by a friend or left out of social gatherings.
Why You Think You’re Ugly | Melissa Butler | TEDxDetroit | 2,512,884 views
Melissa Butler started making lipstick in her kitchen because she was determined to not change the way she looked to fit into some superficial or trendy beauty standard. Teens will find her passion contagious with her determination about creating an inclusive narrative on what beauty is. She offers a powerful reminder to teen girls they can be their own kind of beautiful. Melissa’s message of self-acceptance and self-love is what every teen needs to hear over and over again.
ADHD in Girls and Women | Martha Barnard-Rae | TEDxKinjarling | 661,182 views
ADHD is still underdiagnosed in girls and Martha Barnard-Rae knows what it’s like to be one of those girls, after living undiagnosed for 39 years. Her talk will help any teen girl who has already been diagnosed with ADHD or who thinks they might have it. Martha’s wisdom and empathy support teen girls by helping them let go of any shame they may feel and embracing all the amazing capabilities that come with ADHD.
I Have No Friends | Courtney Ryman | TEDxGeorgetown | 919,685 views
Strength can be found even in times of weakness and college student Courtney Ryman inspires any lonely teen to find the bravery to reach out for help. Her non-traditional journey to Georgetown University brought an underlying struggle with mental illness to the surface. Her challenge inspired her to destigmatize mental illness and speak about the value of human connection. Teens who struggle with forming and maintaining friendships will be inspired by her honesty and bravery.
There are so many great TED Talks for Teens that can inspire and empower your teen and help make them feel so much less alone. Help your teen by encouraging them to listen to even a couple of these! Hearing heartfelt stories of triumph from others can make all the difference in the world to a struggling teen.
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