The Prince’s Trust eBay Youth Index reports that 56 per cent of 16-25 year olds throughout London believe social media creates an “overwhelming pressure” to succeed, while 39 per cent say that comparing their lives to their friends on social media makes them feel “inadequate”.
The Youth Index, supported by eBay, is a national survey that gauges young people’s happiness and confidence across a range of areas from their working life to physical and mental health. The latest report – based on an online survey of 2,162 young people across the UK aged 16-25 – finds the overall Index score has flat-lined at its lowest level in a decade.
Published at a time when comparison with peers seems inescapable for many young people, the report highlights how 51 percent of young people in London feel more anxious about their futures because of comparing themselves with others on social media.
Nick Stace, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “It appears that in the last 12 months nothing has happened to improve the way young people in London and across the UK are feeling about their lives. It is very sad to see the Youth Index score remain at its lowest level, and concerning that the considerable decline we saw in the Index last year has shown no recovery.
“Since the Youth Index launched a decade ago, social media has become omnipresent in the lives of young people and this research suggests it is exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time. Young people are critical to the future success of this country, but they’ll only realise their full potential if they believe in themselves and define success in their own terms. It is therefore a moral and economic imperative that employers, government, charities and wider communities put the needs of young people centre stage.”
The effects of social media on young people are still unclear, and just under a third (31 per cent) of West London respondents claim that social media makes them feel like they can have a voice for their generation and influence positive change. More than a quarter (30 per cent) of respondents believe spending time on social media makes them happy. However, more popular responses included sport (48 per cent), earning enough money to live how they want (69 per cent) and spending time with family (71 per cent).R
Tskenya Frazer, 24 from London is a Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme Young Person
“I was outwardly confident but it was a facade that I’d built up through years of having to put on a brave face. I had kidney problems as a child and was bullied because of it for many years.”
“Growing up in a working class, single parent family, my mother found it difficult to make ends meet. She became ill and I was her sole carer. The pressure to care for my mother and my own physical health, whilst battling to do well in school, developed into anxiety and depression.”
“I got into university but my mental health issues persisted as I had to juggle university, caring for my mum and working in retail.”
“After graduating I was at my lowest. I would not leave the house, I felt hopeless and like I had nothing to live for. After getting another rejection email for a job, I broke down in tears on a bus and a stranger told me about The Prince’s Trust. This saved my life.”
“Throughout my life I’ve not really had anyone to turn to, but the Enterprise programme and support of The Trust gave me the confidence I needed.”
“My shoe business, TSKENYA, is flourishing and I am currently off my mental health medication. In the world we live in, where social media constantly shows you snippets of people living what they want you to believe is their ‘best lives,’ you have to make a conscious effort to tell yourself you are good enough.”
“Alongside my business I work as a part-time Learning Mentor in a pupil referral unit in South London, because I know what it feels like to be a troubled young person in need of support. With the help of my mentors at The Prince’s Trust I was able to move forward.”
The Prince’s Trust gives young people the support needed to stabilise their lives, helping to develop the core skills needed to thrive in education and work. The Trust is enhancing mental health and wellbeing content across our programmes, aiming to boost mental health literacy, improve wellbeing, and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
The Trust has convened the UK2030 taskforce, which has just committed to two new field trips in England and Scotland, meeting young people and mental health experts on the ground. This will develop constructive, actionable recommendations for businesses, third sector and government to ensure young people are healthy, happy and safe.
The charity is using its social media channels to challenge young people’s perceptions of success, encouraging them to re-define success on their own terms and set achievable goals. #YouthIndex