A new study by The Prince's Trust has revealed that well-being amongst the North West's young people is at the lowest point since studies began, with the Vice President of eBay UK - who co-authored the report - calling the findings "very concerning."
Gauging how young people feel about the state of their lives across a range of areas from working life to physical and mental health to how confident they are about their future, the 10th Prince’s Trust eBay Youth Index focused particularly on social media this year with shocking results.
The in-depth study shows that half of 16-25-year-olds in the North West think social media creates an “overwhelming pressure” to succeed, while 43% say that comparing their life to others on social media makes them feel “inadequate” which has lead to young people's well-being score flat-lining at its lowest level since the study was launched.
Demonstration the acrid impact social media can have on young people's perceptions of life, the report also revealed that 49% feel more anxious about their future when comparing themselves to others on social media, 38% worry they will never be as happy as those they see online, and one in nine always or often feel “panicked” when seeing the lives of their friends online.
“It appears that in the last 12 months nothing has happened to improve the way young people in the North West and across the UK are feeling about their lives," said Nick Stace, UK Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust. "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.
“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," Nick added. "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.”
Keen to challenge young people’s perceptions of success at a time of unprecedented opportunity for peer-to-peer comparison online by instilling confidence and equipping them with the skills they need to be healthy, happy, and safe, the Prince's Trust will have nevertheless been bouyed by some of the report's findings which showed that 32% believe spending time on social media makes them happy.
Additionally, 46% say they feel more confident online than they do in person and 35% claim that social media makes them feel like they can have a voice for their generation and influence positive change, showing that the increasingly online-focused society we are living in isn't necessarily an entirely negative concept: young people still rank sport (47%), earning money to fund their lifestyles (60%), and spending time with family (75%) as things which make them happier than social media.
Rob Hattrell, Vice President of eBay UK, said: “The decline in young people’s well-being score in this year’s Youth Index is very concerning. The next generation is the future of our economy, so it’s now more important than ever to ensure every young person is equipped to carve their own path to success.”