More than two thirds of 14 to 17-year-olds believe negative portrayals of teenagers in the media are stopping them getting jobs.
Think tank Demos said false stereotyping of young people in the media and wider society was having a negative effect on both their self-esteem and employment opportunities.
It said four in five teens felt they were unfairly represented in the media and, of these 85 per cent said this was affecting their chances of getting a job.
In its Generation Citizen report, Demos said its survey tested 'attitudes and perceptions' of teenagers. It did not investigate the views of employers.
It said it had also analysed six UK newspapers over the past 10 years and found that the words most commonly associated with 'teenagers', 'youth' and 'young people' were 'binge-drinking', 'yobs' and 'crime'.
Asked by the BBC if youth unemployment was down to structural change in the labour market and a skills shortage rather than negative portrayals in the media, the author of the Demos report, Jonathan Birdwell, said: "Those are absolutely valid points and important factors to consider.
"But there is this perception that they [teenagers] are negatively portrayed. Those messages have an impact on how they perceive their job opportunities.
"The fact that these perceptions are so widespread among young people has to have an impact."
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, told the BBC that young people 'should remember that news media generally reports bad news because bad news is the unusual stuff'.
He said if teenagers looked at media coverage more widely they would see 'a much more balanced picture' with prominent positive reporting of high-achieving young people including A-level students, Olympic athletes and footballers, as well as young soldiers who had served the UK abroad.
The BBC spoke to teenager Becky Brunskill, 18, member of Youth Parliament for Liverpool, for her views.
She said: "At the moment, teenagers feel like they're in the minority really. They are always the ones to get bad press. The young people out there are doing good things for the community, but there's always the stabbing, the hoodie or gun crime that's always on the news. But we're not all like that, it's only a few.
"We need to show businesses and the media that young people are passionate and want to get involved and make a change. There is always negative press. You see on the news, say five times out of the seven days that it's on there's a bad story about young people, so maybe they're a bit put off because maybe they think we'll bring trouble to their business. But we won't.
"Working for the National Citizen Service, the Youth Parliament and the British Youth Council, I'm a much more confident person and I want to go into a business and give them my skills that I've got."