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What Scares Teens?

Teen Trend Report:  8,190 teen visitors, 660+ survey responders, 160+ teen essays about fear:

Teens & Fear - What scares you?

Teen Trend Repot:  What Scares Teenagers?Teens often seem "fearless."  They live in the moment and don't look back.  Or do they?  StageofLife.com wanted to know, so it asked its high school and college student bloggers to answer the question, "What scares you?"

What we found is interesting.  Yes, some teens are afraid of your common "fear" sources, like ghosts or bugs, but many things that scare teenagers are deeper, more philosophical fears that deal with family issues, humanity, politics, failure, school, and themselves. 

The essays below and teen statistics are an exciting dive into the teen psyche.

We look forward to your feedback to this month's Teen Trend Report from StageofLife.com as we explore the question, "What scares you?"

Video Summary - What Scares Teens:



Trend Report Overview:

VISITS:  Over 8,190 teens and college students visited the StageofLife.com student poll and writing contest during the month's writing prompt (October 2013) from across the US (all 50 states) and dozens of international countries.
  • StageofLife.com writing contest summary detailsTEENS and SURVEY DATA:  660 students between junior high school and college fully completed the national survey about what scares teens. 
  • ESSAY THEMES:  Out of all of the topics discussed, four major themes were collectively revealed by teens about what scares them most. 
  • STUDENT ESSAYS:  160+ student bloggers submitted a qualifying essay to the "What Scares You" writing prompt - sharing personal stories about their fears and what scares them. 
  • ESSAY WINNER:  First, second, and third place winners, along with three Runners Up and 19 finalists were selected. 

PART I "SCARY" STATISTICS SURVEY RESULTS

Before submitting their StageofLife.com writing contest essay, teens were asked to complete the Stage of Life monthly national survey about their fears and things that might scare them.  Here are the teen statistics from the survey from 660 students who fully completed the poll...
  • What scrares teens?59% of teens believe in ghosts
  • 64.7% of teenagers like scary movies
  • When given a choice between Obamacare or Miley Cyrus, teens are more afraid of Miley Cyrus than Obamacare (38.8% verses 61.2% respectively)
  • Teens are more afraid of Global Warming than they are of spiders (57% verses 43% respectively)
  • Students fear a Nuclear Iran more than Public Speaking (73.% verses 26.8%)
  • When given a choice between Republicans or Democrats for the political party they fear most, 58.7% of teens selected "both." For teens selecting one of the single parties, 24.7% of students fear Republicans and 16.6% fear Democrats.
  • View our full survey results to read more answers collected during the teen trend report survey...
Teen Trend survey results: What Scares Teens?
To read the full survey results, click the PDF icon to view or save the free download.

PART II "WHAT SCARES YOU" ESSAY THEMES

After taking the survey, students submitted their writing contest essays to StageofLife.com.  From the 160+ qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes and trends emerged:

Themes and Trends from the Essays:  What scares teenagers?
  • Essay themes about fearFear Is Inevitable: No matter how brave or strong some teens may think they are, almost all teens who participated in this contest admitted to having some type of fear. These fears ranged from physical (animals, people, and even ketchup) to emotional (failure, political, and the supernatural).
  • Fears Are Not Chosen: A lot of teens developed their fears in reaction to a traumatic (or otherwise scary) incident in their life. Some teens can’t help their fears which are the result of a mental illness. Fear is not always something a person wants to feel, but some can’t help the visceral reaction.
  • Fears Can Evolve: Many teens noticed that they had the same fears from when they were children. However, the reason for fearing these things wasn’t the same. A simple fear of singing on stage may evolve into a deeper fear of failure in life; fears tend to meld to experiences.
  • Face Your Fears: Even though fears may seem like obstructive forces, it is possible to overcome almost every fear. Confronting your fear in person—holding a snake, speaking to the boy you like, and so on—has been known to help ease fears. Bigger fears, like those that are the result of traumatic events, can be worked on in professional settings like therapy. Either way, if you are ready to begin working on overcoming your fears, victory is possible.

PART III READ THE "What Scares You" ESSAYS

Teens Blog on StageofLife.comImmediately below, you'll find links to the StageofLife.com winning essay, our runners-up, semi-finalists, and 160+ essays from college students and teenagers about their fears and what scares them.

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two, especially our winners, runners-up, and finalists.

If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their writing contest entry).


Stage of Life writing contest winnerTeen & College Essay Contest Winner and Place Finishers:


StageofLife.com student essay writers - Runners Up6 Runners Up (in no particular order):
  1. I am scared of the perennial creepy-crawlies by chewbaccacat (This teen is terrified of ants)   
  2. I am scared of failure by Jlee (This teen motivated herself to study) 
  3. I am scared of last minute surprises by jungsoolee97 (This teen made an error during an important concert) 
  4. I am scared of being forgotten by MadHats (She doesn’t want to end up alone) 
  5. I am scared of fear itself (OCD) by futurejournalist (This teen developed an anxiety disorder) 
  6. I am scared of What scares you? I’m too terrified to make a title by MidnightSunset (Her hears have evolved over the years)

  11 Semi-Finalists (in no particular order):
StageofLife.com teen essay writers - Semi-Finalists
  1. I am scared of the ocean by ggwint (She almost drowned) 
  2. I am scared of moving on while my shell is left behind by alaskapetrie (She is afraid of dying) 
  3. I am scared of not having enough time by jada_javier (“We will our days with busy nothings”) 
  4. I am scared of giving up by elephant (She is fighting an eating disorder)
  5. I am scared of making the wrong decisions for my future by MiuBlaze (She wants to be a writer) 
  6. I am scared of people by 321tika (This teen has Social Anxiety Disorder) 
  7. I am scared of pop-tarts and ramen by sierraelmore (This teen struggles with binge eating disorder) 
  8. I am scared of what is wrong by Zbrook (This teen isn’t sure what disease she has) 
  9. I am scared of being sick for my whole life by jk.martin (This suffers from endometriosis) 
  10. I am scared of ketchup by whyareyoustalkingme.gennine (This teen can’t help her admittedly irrational fear)
  11. I am scared of people who butcher the English language by gerdesrebecca (She doesn’t understand how people don’t understand grammar rules)


Read teen essays from StageofLife.com national writing contest

StageofLIfe.com writing contest submissions

Read All Qualifying Teen & College Essays for the National StageofLife.com Writing Contest
- "When scares you?"

The essays below were all written by Stage of Life teen writers for the monthly writing contest...

Fear for Humanity, America, or Politics

  1. I am scared of Earth’s sustainability by eeva (America is doomed to fail)

  2. I am scared of a disunited nation by kaego (This teen is afraid that America will crumble)

  3. I am scared of discontent and disunity among inhabitants of the world by zaina (This teen sees disunity among people)

  4. I am scared of the stupidity of humanity by oplt1224 (This teen thinks Americans are getting dumber)

  5. I am scared of dying humanity by penwand1205 (This teen sees a downturn in humanity)

  6. I am scared of human nature by anusha (“No one has ever blinked in God’s face”)

  7. I am scared of religion’s effects on society by McGrowl (This teen thinks the separation of church and state in unattainable)

  8. I am scared of America’s economic situation by God’sGrace (America needs to find a solution to its debt problem fast)

Fear of Bugs or Animals

  1. I am scared of those lovable creatures we call birds by PHILosophical (Birds could stage an uprising)

  2. I am scared of spiders by ExtraCredit (This teen is afraid of spiders for three reasons)

  3. I am scared of flying insects by Azreen (This teen was attacked by bees)

  4. I am scared of spiders by Shonda94 (This teen can’t tell which spiders are ok and which are not)

  5. I am scared of the perennial creepy-crawlies by chewbaccacat (This teen is terrified of ants)

  6. I am scared of dogs by abhishekpuri.6 (This teen can only focus on a dog’s sharp teeth)

  7. I am scared of spiders by Jwelday1 (When this teen sees a spider, she will kill it)

  8. I am scared of snakes by Olumiwale (Snakes are sneaky and dangerous)

  9. I am scared of spiders by Diana Jammal (Spiders are a girl’s worst nightmare)

Fear of Being Alone

  1. I am scared of being alone by MaryCaitlin23 (This is afraid of an “empty world”)

  2. I am scared of always being alone by escuderok (This teen worries about not having friends)

  3. I am scared of high school by ridhima (This teen felt alone)

  4. I am scared of people; being alone by MiaPiaLia01 (She moved a lot)

  5. I am scared of loneliness by lilaznprincess85 (This teen has always felt like the knight in shining armor)

  6. I am scared of the end of life, living alone by kidlotto22 (This teen has imagined a scary, vivid apocalypse)

Fear of Darkness, Weather, or Nature

  1. I am scared of being alone in the darkness by virries_grhaeven (This teen’s fear left her in the hospital)

  2. I am scared of thunder by [email protected] (She doesn’t like thunderstorms)

  3. I am scared of the dark by HurricaneWitch (She doesn’t like being in the dark)

  4. I am scared of what’s in the dark by shanece~_~ (Her mind plays tricks on her)

  5. I am scared of the dark by crisscrossjess (This teen is afraid of what she can’t see)

  6. I am scared of the darkness by tristanmckay (This teen is afraid of what’s in the dark)

  7. I am scared of darkness by brainacwriter (She is afraid of scary movies and the dark)

  8. I am scared of the ocean by ggwint (She almost drowned)

  9. I am scared of the dark by poohbear98 (This teen has an active imagination)

  10. I am scared of the dark by Sara43 (A person’s mind lets loose in the dark)

  11. I am scared of the dark by writingchamp12 (This teen is afraid of noises in the dark)

Fear of Death

  1. I am scared of death by klammert (This teen wants to live life to the fullest)

  2. I am scared of the idea that no one will miss me if I vanish by Rohan Menon (“I want to have lived a life that means something”)

  3. I am scared of not living life to the fullest by Mishyou (This teen is afraid she “takes” too much)

  4. I am scared of the afterlife by catynickole (This teen worries she’s not good enough for an afterlife)

  5. I am scared of the inescapable doom that is death by Kennedy Borman (Death never goes away)

  6. I am scared of not knowing what could happen tomorrow by loganeasterling (His grandpa passed away unexpectedly)

  7. I am scared of moving on while my shell is left behind by alaskapetrie (She is afraid of dying)

  8. I am scared of oblivion by sydney_clark13 (This teen is afraid no one will remember her after she dies)

  9. I am scared of the death by charis jackson (She tried to care for her grandmother in her time of need)

  10. I am scared of the child that breathed his last by That Ulzzang Girl (She witnessed a death)

  11. I am scared of death by Taylor:) (This teen is afraid of what happens after death)

  12. I am scared of cancer by Arbi Khodaverdian (Cancer can quickly take away your health)

Fear of Failure

  1. I am scared of failure: confessions of a perfectionist by julia1997 (She admittedly pushes herself to the extreme)

  2. I am scared of: What am I scared of? by oyoh (Her anxiety weighs her down)

  3. I am scared of failure by xmaddyx562 (Failure is an inevitable part of life)

  4. I am scared of failing myself by Chocolatebunny (Prose about her experience driving)

  5. I am scared of disappointment by hannahpetosa (She is afraid to let people down)

  6. I am scared of failure by Jlee (This teen motivated herself to study)

  7. I am scared of losing my strength of character by Megiris (She failed an assignment, and didn’t want to fall down a slippery slope)

  8. I am scared of failure by dilawar.javaid.3 (Be sure to learn from failure)

  9. I am scared of dying without having made an impact by Inspired (This teen is afraid she won’t accomplish much)

  10. I am scared of life by Dash (This teen is afraid of not living)

  11. I am scared of nothingness by aissatad12 (This teen feels like she is bound to be a failure)

  12. I am scared of failure by shrishti sethi (This teen wants to be a rock for her parents)

  13. I am scared of not having enough time by jada_javier (“We will our days with busy nothings”)

  14. I am scared of failing in life by tzadouri (This teen often gives in to distractions)

  15. I am scared of wasting my life by making the wrong decisions by timo1213 (This teen often wonders about the decisions he makes)

  16. I am scared of being lost by Farah_ali (This teen is often lost in fantasy world)

  17. I am scared of disappointing by ledogen (This teen doesn’t want to be a disappointment)

  18. I am scared of last minute surprises by jungsoolee97 (This teen made an error during an important concert)

  19. I am scared of not living up to expectations by enw12 (This teen wants to do the best)

  20. I am scared of life by Samantha.McGraw (This teen thinks life is a beautiful lie)

Fear of Family and Friends

  1. I am scared of being like her by Aforgottenmemory (She doesn’t want to end up like her mother)

  2. I am scared of being made fun of by julia911 (She doesn’t think she’s good enough)

  3. I am scared of my life becoming unbearable by fanfic-luver (This teen has never been bullied)

  4. I am scared of losing my mother by Ayobami (This teen fears the day mother dies)

  5. I am scared of knowing by Meder11653 (This teen’s twin has severe depression)

  6. I am scared of being alone by eeyoregirl30 (She has never been apart from her twin brother)

  7. I am scared of being a victim by Peaceloveharmony18 (She does not want to be bullied)

  8. I am scared of losing another loved one by Derbygirl54 (Her sister died recently)

  9. I am scared of people watching me by booklover4lyfe (This teen feels judged by her peers)

  10. I am scared of disappointing my dad by apriddy2 (She doesn’t want to let her father down)

  11. I am scared of being forgotten by MadHats (She doesn’t want to end up alone)

  12. I am scared of being a bad mother by angelmitchell6589 (This teen has seen the effects of bad parenting)

  13. I am scared of telling guys how I feel about them by Caragal (She avoids awkward social interactions)

  14. I am scared of love: the silent and terrifying by jasonxiang123 (Love is consuming)

  15. I am scared of being a victim again by Emily97 (Her cousin did something horrible to this teen)

  16. I am scared of… my scariest moment by senior’14 (Her brother attempted suicide)

  17. I am scared of bullying by sshaffn1 (This teen is being bullied)

  18. I am scared of being alone by irene_elizabethx (She finds herself disconnected with people)

Fear of Fear

  1. I am scared of scary movies by xbbyx (This teen has nightmares from watching movies like Chucky)

  2. I am scared of fear itself (OCD) by futurejournalist (This teen developed an anxiety disorder)

  3. I am scared of the unseen by JordanMarie23 (This teen is afraid of the unimaginable)

  4. I am scared of giving up by elephant (She is fighting an eating disorder)

  5. I am scared of getting scared by Roseneddie (Snippits of scary stories she has heard)

Fear of the Future

  1. I am scared of the future by kwilfong11 (This teen wants to look back and be happy with the choices they made)

  2. I am scared of making the wrong decisions for my future by MiuBlaze (She wants to be a writer)

  3. I am scared of growing up badly by EmilyP (This teen is afraid she won’t be ready for adulthood)

  4. I am scared of tomorrow by _emodi (This teen tries to be the best every day)

  5. I am scared of the future of humanity by sarahraza (The future seems to hold violence)

  6. I am scared of not knowing where I could possibly be in a year by freakingjavon (He’s not sure where he’ll be in ten months)

  7. I am scared of moving on by cheriberi99 (She doesn’t like making big decisions)

  8. I am scared of change by JLast (Change is uncontrollable)

  9. I am scared of growing up by the thickness (This teen isn’t sure if he can take care of himself)

  10. I am scared of my dreams not coming true by Skyler (This teen is afraid of not taking the first step)

  11. I am scared of the inevitable by icannotbearclaire (She is afraid of “firsts”)

  12. I am scared of leaving home: the end of trick or treating by luigisarracina (This teen doesn’t want to grow up)

  13. I am scared of the 22nd century by ihi5edurface (This teen doesn’t know what a thousand years from now will look like)

  14. I am scared of the future by manaship49 (This teen is afraid of what might happen)

  15. I am scared of time by justwritin4fun (This teen is afraid of the future)

  16. I am scared of the time that flies by Shringi (This teen doesn’t like change)

  17. I am scared of monotony by westongirls (She doesn’t want to be stuck in a routine)

  18. I am scared of the metaphorical cliff that is my life by mollsmccartney (This teen is on the “edge” of her next stage of life)

  19. I am scared of forgetting by Lanilynn99 (She wants to remember all details in her life)

  20. I am scared of what the future holds by mqad123 (This teen is afraid of growing up)

Fear of Myself

  1. I am scared of… my mind by rh.auna86 (This teen doesn’t want to get lost in her mind)

  2. I am scared of myself by Faithslovee (She doesn’t have control over herself)

  3. I am scared of myself by TheCatcher25 (This teen doesn’t feel real)

  4. I am scared of the person I’ve become by Kemara Night (Major depression controls her life)

  5. I am scared of people by 321tika (This teen has Social Anxiety Disorder)

  6. I am scared of myself by CrazyGirl (She worries about her reactions to other people)

  7. I am scared of the silver blade by 15brownao (This teen was a cutter)

  8. I am scared of perception by kiersten1997 (She wonders how other people see her)

  9. I am scared of pop-tarts and ramen by sierraelmore (This teen struggles with binge eating disorder)

  10. I am scared of… what is wrong by Zbrook (This teen isn’t sure what disease she has)

  11. I am scared of aging by ec9999 (She doesn’t want to lose her innocence)

No Fear

  1. I am scared of… not much by Kingnerdx (This teen hasn’t had a fear since he was 7)

  2. I am never scared by skzt2000 (This teen fears none but God)

  3. I am scared of nothing—not anymore by cellobear (This teen has outgrown old fears)

Misc. Fears

  1. I am scared of my grandma’s fridge by aysha (This teen found spoiled food in her grandma’s fridge)

  2. I am scared of fire by LydiaL1997 (This teen has pyrophobia)

  3. I am scared of not going home by CrazyCat (This teen is in foster care)

  4. I am scared of being deported by LisaTanja (She doesn’t want to go back to Germany)

  5. I am scared of what I am scared of by Madeline (Let go of your fears)

  6. I am scared of being lonely by hanna.jarvis (Being lonely is unhealthy)

  7. I am scared of needles by unicornsandcupcakes (She hates getting vaccines)

  8. I am scared of becoming incapacitated by allisonblb (This teen doesn’t want to be “discarded” when she gets older)

  9. I am scared of… what scares me the most? by TheTroxBoss_101 (This teen is afraid of murderers in movies)

  10. I am scared of… what scares you? by ChrisRileyEst19xx (Fear is pointless)

  11. I am scared of things I can’t see by MALLET-babe (She is afraid of a few things)

  12. I am scared of c-sections by Meesh_97 (This teen doesn’t think c-sections are very “beautiful”)

  13. I am scared of roller coasters by gmuggill (This teen doesn’t like amusement parks)

  14. I am scared of sticky things by ThatBuddistKid (This teen has had a strange fear since childhood)

  15. I am scared of drowning by stinkydipper (This teen has nightmares about drowning)

  16. I am scared of being sick for my whole life by jk.martin (This suffers from endometriosis)

  17. I am scared of people dying without knowing Jesus by Nathanael (This teen says that Jesus is the only way to heaven)

  18. I am scared of: What scares you? I’m too terrified to make a title by MidnightSunset (Her hears have evolved over the years)

  19. I am scared of those red stuffs by WriterJasmine (She doesn’t like pimples)

  20. I am scared of nostalgia by yoshi2000 (This teen doesn’t want to get caught in the past)

  21. I am scared of driving by cannonsquirrel (This teen wants to face his fears and drive)

  22. I am scared of competition by KylieRylie (Competition can drive people to do bad things)

  23. I am scared of tight, closed spaces by legarrett01 (This teen doesn’t like being close to other people)

  24. I am scared of the most dangerous, scariest, and craziest sport: football! by David (Football can be intense)

  25. I am scared of everything by chelsea.perez (She is afraid of the dark, dogs, and getting lost)

  26. I am scared of ketchup by whyareyoustalkingme.gennine (This teen can’t help her admittedly irrational fear)

  27. I am scared of running at night by laurenaeda (This teen encountered quite a few scary people on a night run)

  28. I am scared of God by Ejmin (God can take away life at any moment)

  29. I am scared of the dentist by katiecooke (This teen is the queen of cavities)

  30. I am scared of jeans by pigfluff (This teen hates the conformity jeans create)

Fear of School

  1. I am scared of people who butcher the English language by gerdesrebecca (She doesn’t understand how people don’t understand grammar rules)

  2. I am scared of a deciding fate (aka college) by thewildyouth (This teen is afraid of debt and adjusting to college)

  3. I am scared of not being the best by TayLuvsBooks (This teen did well in classes, but she wants to be the top)

  4. I am scared of getting bad grades in school by Jorgem95 (This teen has always been on honor roll)

  5. I am scared of losing by Pat5Mert (His team had a losing streak)

  6. I am scared of the dreaded 89 by missannat08 (She only wants As)

  7. I am scared of public speaking by zandraneff (This teen doesn’t want to make a fool of herself)

  8. I am scared of the decreasing emphasis on the application of knowledge by cakoch10 (This teen wants to see a change in the way teachers teach)

Fear of the Supernatural

  1. I am scared of ghosts by tbanze4 (This teen is afraid of the unknown: are ghosts real or not?)

  2. I am scared of aliens by Destryer123 (This teen was afraid of aliens taking over earth)

  3. I am scared of ghosts by kgross99 (This teen doesn’t like not knowing if ghosts are around)

  4. I am scared of Bloody Mary by emily.severinson (This teen is afraid to look at mirrors in the middle of the night)


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    Writing Contests and Teen Trend Reports

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