Youth Culture Window

All I Want for Christmas Is…

There’s good news this Christmas season for anyone who’s willing to stand in line outside WalMart in freezing weather, race to the electronics section as soon as the doors open, and snag the last Nintendo Wii from the frail grasp of the elderly woman who had her heart set on giving it to her grandson: relax…teenagers can be bought! 

That’s right. According to research gathered by OTX, a leader in research of global consumerism, the number one item on teenagers’ wish lists this year is cold hard cash. 39% of the teenagers polled around the nation said they wanted money above all else. Computers took second place (30%), and clothes, third (25%).

The same poll found that the number one store teenagers will shop in this year is an electronics store (46% of teens). Bath/Health/Body stores took a very close second (45%), while music stores rounded out the top three (41%). I wonder how much of this particular data is gender specific? I don’t know too many teenage guys who sat on Santa’s lap and asked for the latest in skin exfoliates.

When asked who was most likely to receive their Christmas cheer this season (to the tune of at least $100 of their own money), 28% of teens said their significant other came first. Awww, that’s so sweet! Surprisingly, “best friend” took 11th place with 9% of teens. Why is this a surprise? Because pets ranked 10th amongst the same teens! Wow. Their best buddy just got voted off the island before Rover!

Perhaps most telling is the discovery that more than 9 in 10 teens (95%) do online research before visiting the malls and retailers. This last bit of news is encouraging for several reasons. It shows due diligence on the students’ behalf in trying to compare prices and find deals, and it reveals that students have some sort of purpose in their shopping and are not just aimlessly spending their resources.

I think two points of helpful information can be gleaned by observant youth workers concerning this research.


  • It lets you know how close to the “norm” your particular group of students is. You might want to ask your teens if these gift and purchase choices ring true for them this Christmas season, because,


  • These gifts definitely point to teens’ interest, and may even help you predict how students will be spending large portions of their time this coming year. For instance, technology and music were definite hits with teens this year…again. As such, I don’t see the era of the iPod-entranced teenager going away anytime soon.

To all of you who have faithfully told the Christmas story all year long, I hope you get all that you want this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

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David R. Smith

David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.

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