The Generational Gap Between Teenagers and Older Generations in The 1950's and The Role and Impact of Rock 'N' Roll in The Gap

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 789 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Dec 11, 2018

Words: 789|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Dec 11, 2018

The growing division between teenagers and older generations in the 1950s was collectively referred to as the generational gap, and was mostly blamed on the impact rock ‘n’ roll had on teenagers. The teenagers and the generation of today take their teenage period for granted, as the term teenager wasn’t even established until the 1950’s. “Before the 20th century, teenagers didn’t exist” (Altschuler). Prior to there being a teenager period in one’s life, people used to still be seen as children and kids at the age of 13 until they reached adulthood. This is one of the primary reasons as to why the parents of the ‘50s children were baffled by the idea of there being a teenager period; they never experienced one themselves. The parents of these children of the new generation were used to listening to their parents’ orders, and had expected the same with their own children.

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With the introduction of rock ‘n’ roll, parents began associating their children’s behavior with corruption established in the music they listened to. They had never been rebellious teens themselves, and were shocked that they were living in an era where the parents try so hard, just to get no appreciation in return from their children. In my opinion, prior to the ‘50s, children were used to being oppressed and controlled by their parents’ wishes and demands. Rock ‘n’ roll provided a channel for these children to find more about themselves, establish their identity, break free of the control of their parents, and learn more about the world around them, which inevitably brought what is to believed to be rebellious acts from them, such as early marriages, necking with boys, showing disinterest in academic work, among other things.

Prior to rock ‘n’ roll, there was of course the beautiful blues and jazz that rock ‘n’ roll founded upon. However, the society prior to the birth of rock ‘n’ roll was so filled with racial biases that they didn’t even give a consideration to this music, and perhaps, if they had, they could’ve experienced what is being a teenager too. The rebellious acts parents were worrying about were normal signs of a teenager living their life. “Much of what was called juvenile delinquency was the normal exuberance of youth” (Altschuler). However, they couldn’t come to realize this since they lacked a teenager stage of their own and never even thought about rebelling against their own parents, which pushed the teenagers and the parents toward a generational gap.

While teenagers couldn’t come to understand why their parents were so against their taste in music and their overall lifestyle (since they weren’t doing anything wrong), parents themselves couldn’t truly explain what was so bothersome about rock ‘n’ roll. Dick Clark’s view was that “some adults were jealous or hypercritical of their teenagers” (Altschuler), and this is entirely understandable. Parents of these children grew up being oppressed by all types of adults. When they went to school, they were paddled by their instructors for doing something out of the ordinary, like talking to an acquaintance when they shouldn’t be (Altschuler), when they were at home, they were meant to follow strict regulations and rules, and if they didn’t they would be punished for it. As it can be seen, these people most likely didn’t establish their identity until their adult years, and possibly were still in the process of establishing their identity when they had their children. For instance, teenpics, which were movies targeted at the teenage society that showed the correlation between their efforts in self-identity and the rock ‘n’ roll music, were popular during this time. Rock, Pretty Baby was one of these teenpics, and there is a revolutionary and compassionate moment within the movie where the father tells his son “Sometimes it takes a father longer to grow up than his son” (Altschuler), which completely rings true for that time era.

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As can be seen, the generational gap in the 1950’s was due to assorted reasons. The main one of these reasons was the fact that being a teenager was a recent development, parents had no previous experience with the rebellious nature of teenagers, and there was a lack of understanding on both sides as to why they didn’t understand one another. Although some rock ‘n’ roll stars like Pat Boone tried to help the teenagers understand the parents’ views, with statements like “For the record, your parents had to be teenagers at some time” (Altschuler) they were essentially ignorant that being a teenager was a fresh concept, and that these teenagers wouldn’t be conforming to anything that will question the identity they are building for themselves. Thankfully, through various teenpics and television shows, both adults and teenagers began to understand the other side better.

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The Generational Gap Between Teenagers and Older Generations in the 1950’s and the Role and Impact of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Gap. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 3, 2023, from
“The Generational Gap Between Teenagers and Older Generations in the 1950’s and the Role and Impact of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Gap.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
The Generational Gap Between Teenagers and Older Generations in the 1950’s and the Role and Impact of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Gap. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Dec. 2023].
The Generational Gap Between Teenagers and Older Generations in the 1950’s and the Role and Impact of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Gap [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 26 [cited 2023 Dec 3]. Available from:
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