5 TED Talks to Watch With Your Teen

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You’ve seen the links on your social media profiles and been emailed by friends and family. TED Talks, a global set of seminars under the motto “Ideas Worth Spreading,” provide a little something for anyone, of any age, making it an incredibly appealing and accessible web series.

Take our word for it: These 5 talks are worth spreading—especially to teens!

1. Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a Model

In a talk that will leave you thinking, former model Cameron Russell tackles the question, Why do girls set such high standards for themselves? She starts off by bluntly stating, “Image is powerful. But also image is superficial.” It’s important for teens to realize that image isn’t everything—and hearing this from a model can be really powerful. 

2.  The Psychology Of Time

Teenagers are always looking for time management tips, and while psychologist Philip Zimbardo does not provide any overt skills in this talk, he explains how “many of life puzzles can be solved by understanding your time perspective and that of others.” Everyone looks at time differently. But developing an awareness of how time appears to you versus how it appears to others is crucial, as knowing and accepting these different understandings can often resolve conflict.

3. Kids, Take Charge

Kiran Sethi, educator and founder of the Riverside School in India, describes the “I Can” bug—the “bug” that empowers people to feel like they can go out into the world and make a splash. This motivational talk demonstrates how her students got infected with this bug, took local issues into their own hands, and set out with the conviction to change the world. This message is inspiring for teens of all ages, as they should feel like they, too, can truly make a difference.

4. The Danger of a Single Story

Speaking from her personal experience, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses the importance of seeking out different points of view when interpreting a story, and the personal growth that can come from this deeper and more nuanced understanding. Teaching teens to take what they read with a grain of salt, and to consider it from all angles, allows them to be much open-minded, well rounded, and tolerant. 

5. Life is your Talents Discovered

Creative education giant Sir Ken Robinson teaches us that it’s well worth it to bring our talents out of hiding—even if it first leads to failure. Robinson encourages viewers by explaining that nothing is as powerful as a life well lived. He reveals the reality that “anyone who has achieved anything in life is prepared to be wrong.” Robinson tells us that Paul McCartney’s music teacher didn’t think he had any musical talent. Teens should know that it’s OK if they, or their teachers, don’t yet see their talents. Life is all about uncovering them.