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Social Norms in Teenagers

By Laurie Anderson ; Updated April 18, 2017
Teenagers often identify with cliques, or close-knit groups of friends.

Every society imposes upon its members social norms that are considered appropriate guidelines for how to think, look and behave. Teenagers, however, often appear to have their own culture, with a unique and somewhat exclusive set of guidelines that they seem to believe adults don’t understand. Most of these teenage social norms are common and signify the beginning of the transition from childhood into adulthood and eventual independence.

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Increased Focus on Friends

Teenagers are highly influenced by their friends. They will usually form friendships with other teens who are involved in similar extracurricular activities, and many will attempt to become friends with those who are considered attractive and popular by their peers. Decreasing interest in parents and other family members is considered normal among most teenagers, who will often attempt to keep their social lives concealed from adults.


Most teenagers will have a healthy and natural interest in the opposite sex. They will attempt to form casual relationships based on who their friends value and who is considered to be most desirable. Although typically short lived, these teenage relationships and the experiences they create can influence more serious relationships in the future. Like their friendships, teens will often hide details of these relationships from their families.

Social Networking

Technology plays a major role in the social lives of most people, and teenagers are no exception. Socializing via text messaging and websites such as Facebook and Twitter has become a strongly encouraged social norm in the world of teenagers. Online interactions such as comments and posted photos can have a serious impact on a teen’s social life. Many teenagers consider it socially normal to keep their various profiles and accounts hidden from their families and visible to their friends and peers only.


Teenagers can often influence each other in both positive and negative ways. Typically, teens are highly influenced by image, and may experiment with dressing differently, or among older teens, getting new piercings and tattoos. In some social circles, it is considered normal or “cool” to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex. While some degree of experimentation is normal and healthy, many teens also realize the dangerous consequences of social norms that involve substance abuse and promiscuity.

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About the Author

Laurie Anderson is a graduate of Texas Woman's University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She began her professional writing career in 2010 as an assistant copywriter for an advertising agency.

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