The Jewish Community's Guide to Understanding Teens

Dec. 26, 2008

Source: JESNA 


In 2005, BBYO commissioned a survey by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), the leading researcher of teens, tweens and twenty-somethings, in order to better understand teen views on religion. BBYO has spent the last several years following teen trends and culling through teen research – both secular and Jewish. This updated report, a compilation of secondary resources, reflects the most recent findings. The report focuses on teenagers, while also providing information on “tween” trends to increase the understanding of this younger, pre-high school demographic.


Some of the reported highlights of the study are:

Customization & Identity

Teens want choices as they form their identities. They are used to customizing everything from their iPod playlists to their Starbucks coffee order. Likewise, Jewish teens are seeking customized ways to connect to their Judaism.

Stressed Out

Between school, work, homework, social life, extracurricular activities, technology and chores, teens are busier than ever before.

Voicing their Beliefs

Today’s teens live in a participatory culture in which expressing personal opinions gives them more control over what they experience. For example, though teens under 18 can’t vote, they desire to have their voices heard on the challenges we face.

Teens & Technology

Today’s teens are “digital natives.” They’ve grown up with technology, making it as common to them as fork and knife. Teens are now available and wired 24/7, but this does not hinder their social lives or social skills; rather it boosts their ability to be constantly socializing.


Similar to their older siblings, tweens (usually defined between the ages of 8-12 or 9-14 years) share a passion for multi-tasking. They spend their time doing similar activities, such as watching TV and listening to music, but tweens spend much more time with their parents and much less time online.

Teens & Religion

Jewish teens are seeking new ways to connect to their religion. As reported in a BBYO–commissioned survey, conducted by TRU, 67 percent of teens said that they would like to better relate with their religion, and 55 percent said that they are looking for a less conventional way to do so.

BBYO Alumni Impact Study

A BBYO survey released in October 2008 reveals that BBYO has a significantly positive impact on classic indicators of Jewish connection—attitude, behaviors and relationships — and, in fact, BBYO alumni value Jewish connection at a much higher rate than do Jews in the general population (as measured by the United Jewish Communities National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01).

Updated: Sep. 06, 2009