As opinionated as teenage boys are, they can be a bit hard to read. To get an insight into their tastes and find the coolest gifts for this particularly tough crowd, we asked over a dozen teenage boys about the things they’d love to receive. We’ve made something of a habit of polling teens, so we dug into those archives, too, highlighting the coolest loungewear and room décor. For the clout-obsessed teen, we included Ben Simmons’s favorite hoodie and more things Gen-Z-approved celebrities can’t live without.
Since we know every teen boy is different, we tried to think about every possible scenario — from the gamer who wants to gear up his bedroom-lighting setup to the athlete who could use a massager on the go. You can use the table of contents to navigate to the category you think will best speak to your teenager. (And if you’ve got an adolescent girl in your life, be sure to check out our list of gifts for teenage girls too.)
Music gifts for teenage boys
Bluetooth speakers are a go-to gift for teen boys, and this one’s our best overall pick. It has excellent battery life and easy-to-use (and quite iconic) buttons, and it’s durable. Former Strategist writer Jordan Bowman says it “survived enough drops and falls to be in a John Wick movie,” so we’re sure it can handle anything a teen boy can throw at it.
A slightly less expensive option is this JBL mini-speaker. It may not get as loud as the above, but it’s even more portable and pretty durable. The clip design makes it easy to attach to backpacks and bike baskets, which is why it’s our favorite portable speaker.
For a Bluetooth speaker that doubles as décor, our tech writer Jordan McMahon claims the JBL Pulse 5 looks “like a modern take on a ’70s-style lava lamp.” The speaker’s mood-lifting light changes colors and is customizable on an app, where you can adjust the tempo and color scheme. What’s more, it’s durable in case your teen wants to take theirs on the go.
Alternatively, headphones work just as well (and his parents might thank you). These over-ear headphones come recommended to us by rapper Tyla Yaweh. He’s no longer a teen — but his parents gifted him Beats when he was one. As Yaweh says, “There’s nothing better.”
Wireless headphones have been a most-wished-for item over the years, and our most recent teen poll shows their popularity hasn’t faltered. The AirPods Pro are about $100 more expensive than the standard AirPods, and both have wireless charging cases. The main difference between them is that the Pros have a better battery life and active noise cancellation. And while that may seem like a great selling point, some teens have told us they actually prefer the slightly older AirPods because they’re more compact.
Unlike AirPods, these are designed with sports and activity in mind. They might be a better choice for athletes who like to listen to music while running or working out. If you need a bit more convincing, Washington Wizards basketball player Kyle Kuzma told us he “can’t get into game mode without them.”
Record players have consistently topped teens’ wish lists for years. So we’ve found two options to suit different tastes. The Victrola player above is an inexpensive, all-in-one-style record player with built-in speakers. If they’re more of an audiophile, go with the Audio-Technica. It definitely is a price jump from the Victrola, but it’s actually on the more affordable side when it comes to more serious turntables. Plus it’s our best overall pick because it’s fully automatic and produces excellent sound quality.
This Yamaha is excellent for the budding pianist because it has 76 keys (versus the 61 common on beginner keyboards) and modes that are helpful for learning, like “Touch Tutor.” Plus this model comes with almost everything you need — the keyboard, a stand, and an adjustable padded bench.
If he’s a rap fanatic, he’d enjoy Joe Coscarelli’s book Rap Capital. It explores the history of Atlanta’s rap scene and how it shaped — or was shaped by — artists like Lil Baby and Migos as well as lesser known but equally important players in the music industry.
Gadget gifts for teenage boys
These strip lights were brought up in our 2021 teen poll as a fun alternative to conventional lighting. The lights connect to Google Assistant so they can be turned on through voice command — convenient for the gamers and streamer teens in your life too. They definitely up the vibe.
While pretty low-tech, disposable cameras are a hit with teens. Actor Angus Cloud, from Gen-Z favorite show Euphoria, stocks up on these Fujifilm ones so he can “ask people in the street if I can take their pictures,” a fun fact your teen might appreciate.
For something they can use longer, gift them an Instax camera. Consider throwing in extra packs of film, too, since it can get a bit pricey for a teen’s budget.
On the topic of streaming services, the teen anime fan will likely appreciate a subscription to Crunchyroll. It distributes popular anime shows such as One Piece, Attack on Titan, and Mob Psycho. Strategist senior editor Winnie Yang gifted a subscription to her now-13-year-old nephew last Christmas and says, “It’s been a big hit.”
This mini-projector is an inexpensive, easy way to turn his room into a makeshift home theater. And he can use it for years to come, even when he goes off to college. Students told us it’s easy to set up for movie nights, and it comes with a built-in battery so there’s no need to fuss over finding an outlet.
Though technically not a gadget, a beanbag chair will make said movie nights even more comfortable. This Fatboy one is durable enough to withstand spills and “oddly chic,” according to Strategist writer Erin Schwartz. Plus it’s another thing to bring to a dorm room in the future.
Sports gifts for teenage boys
If your teen is a loyal sports fan, a baseball hat is an easy way to show their support. While it’s up to you to find out which team your teen boy loves — it shouldn’t be too hard — you should stick with a ’47 hat. They’re good quality, and the brand makes hats for NBA, NHL, NFL, and college teams too. You can find some of the brand’s hats at bigger retailers like Urban Outfitters, but for the full range, you’ll want to browse its website.
If he’s an athlete himself, he’ll appreciate an actually good basketball. The classic brand Spalding makes an indoor-outdoor basketball (meaning it is suitable for any ground, whether it be concrete or a gym floor), so he can use it pretty much anywhere. And if he already owns a good ball, you could always spring for an outdoor hoop or over-the-door hoop, depending on whether you have driveway space.
If your teen gets around by bike or scooter, consider gifting this inexpensive, compact bike light. Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa has been using these for the past three years, because they “don’t budge, even while riding over the gnarliest road bumps.” They’re so small that he can throw them in his pants pocket after locking up his bike.
If they’re the kind of sports fan that tends to go to games, a Yeti cooler will come in handy for tailgating. (To be clear: Tailgating is the umbrella term for hanging out in the parking lot before a game starts and does not require alcohol.) It is a splurge, but as we’ve said before, there’s really nothing more heavy-duty and durable than a Yeti cooler. There are lots of sizes to choose from, but if the cooler will be kept in the trunk and needs to satisfy an entire carload of teen boys, we suggest the Tundra 35 hard cooler. It’s compact enough to transport but big enough to carry drinks and food for five or more teens.
Not as expensive as the cooler but just as useful is Yeti’s water bottle. It’s easy enough to bring to sports practices and carry around the house. Everyone from New York Magazine writers to celebrities love it for being so well insulated, dentproof, and status-y.
If the teenage boy you’re shopping for has a yard at home or lives close to a park, SpikeBall is a popular, fast-paced game he’ll appreciate. It follows a simple set of rules: There are two teams, and every player on each team must touch the ball before it returns to the net, never letting it touch the ground. If they don’t, the other team takes a point. First to 21 wins!
Slightly more expensive is this Theragun, which is beloved by massage therapists, trainers, and one of our own writers. While it is more of a splurge, it’s a great investment, especially if the teen in your life is an athlete. Columnist Rio Viera-Newton was told by her physical therapist it’s “the very best at-home muscle-relief tools money can buy.”
Gaming gifts for teenage boys
A headset is a necessity for all types of gaming, and this one’s versatile enough to work wirelessly for Switch, PS4, PC, and Android phones. It comes recommended by Emily Heller, a recommendations editor at Vulture and a gamer herself, as a great affordable gaming-headset option.
If your teen prefers gaming on a computer, consider gifting this mouse that comes recommended by Kyle F., a tech TikToker and gamer. He says it’s “pretty well known in the gaming community because of how light it is.” He prefers the wired mouse over the wireless option because “they aren’t nearly as good, and besides, a wireless mouse is always somewhat of a risk since it uses batteries, which can be heavy, and you risk them dying in the middle of a game.”
Whether he’s into gaming on a PC or Xbox, he’ll appreciate a controller nicer than the standard fare. This one, recommended by our friends over at the Verge, has four customizable rear buttons, adjustable sticks, and optional weights to insert into the grips to give it more heft.
From our years of reporting this story, new gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One X always come out on top of wish lists. But stock tends to fluctuate — especially during the holidays — and they’re just plain expensive. For something that’s a third of the price and likely in stock, the Backbone One was recommended as an excellent gift for the gamer in your life. It turns gaming on iPhones “into a first-class experience that can follow me nearly anywhere,” says our technology writer Jordan McMahon. As long as he has an iPhone capable of running iOS 13, setup is simple, and it doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection to work.
While more pricey, the more avid gamer might appreciate Oculus’s latest VR gaming device. It has 50 percent more pixels than the original, and it’s an all-in-one wireless system, so he won’t have to deal with a separate console. The headset gives you access to VR Chat, movies, and the entire Quest content library, which includes games such as Jurassic World Aftermath, Warhammer 40,000, and The Walking Dead.
For $100 less, you can gift the Nintendo Switch Lite. It’s smaller and more portable but is handheld only. It’s likely better (and more cost effective) if he doesn’t have a TV in his room or prefers gaming on-the-go.
Elden Ring was named the very best video game by Polygon at the end of 2022, so we think your teen might enjoy the immersive game if he hasn’t picked it up already. “Whether it’s stunning and carefully created vistas to stumble across organically, unique rewards (and the bosses that guard them) tucked away in hidden cellars, or a far-too-tough enemy that serves as a preview of your future power, every moment in the Lands Between feels like it was placed with the utmost intention,” writes Austen Goslin in Polygon.
The new Madden comes out August 24, and you can preorder the video game now to make sure it arrives once the game drops. The football video game has been brought up in the past by teens as a favorite and continues to be a popular pick.
Last year, two teens told us they were excited about the latest Call of Duty (which at the time was Black Ops Cold War). Modern Warfare II is the newest addition to the franchise’s lineup. It was released last October, so we suggest snagging one for the teen gamer in your life if they haven’t already bought it for themselves. It’s available for Xbox One, PS4, and PS5.