Almost 70%of young people (aged 16-19) in Ireland are optimistic that society will change for the better in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s according to new research published on Monday, which was carried out by Young Social Innovators with its partner, market research and data specialists, Amárach Research.
The results of the research come five and a half weeks since the closure of schools across the country, and offers rich insight into how young people are coping with life during the ongoing public health emergency, and of their perceptions of what life may look like afterwards. Key findings include:
● 37 per cent of young people are feeling calm, positive, motivated and enthusiastic during the current pandemic, while 53 per cent are feeling anxious, stressed or depressed.
● 66 per cent of young people surveyed have spoken to, or confided in, a family member or friend about how they are feeling as a result of COVID-19.
● Maintaining a connection to friends is important for young people amidst the crisis, with almost 70 per cent spending more time on the phone / internet with friends while confined to the home.
● Almost all young people surveyed feel they have some knowledge of COVID-19, with six in 10 stating that they know a lot.
● 70 per cent of young people are engaging with the news at least once a day, with over 80 per cent getting their news from television.
● There is clarity among the majority of young people regarding hand washing etiquette and social distancing, and they have a clear understanding of the importance of following Government guidelines. However, young people are less clear around what to do if someone in their family develops symptoms.
● The majority (94 per cent) of young people have stopped going out to meet up with friends; 80 per cent are keeping at least two metres apart from people when in public; 78 per cent are practising strict handwashing, and 68 per cent are practicing proper coughing hygiene.
● Almost 80 per cent of young people are using an app to keep in touch with friends, with Snapchat (83 per cent) and Instagram (57 per cent) the most-used platforms.
● There is a strong interest among young people in helping out in their community, with 52 per cent of those surveyed having a desire to help, or are already helping.
● More than eight in 10 young people feel COVID-19 is impacting on their life a lot.
CEO of YSI, Rachel Collier said: "As Ireland’s young people come of age during unprecedented times, it is important that we understand how they are faring amidst such crisis and uncertainty.
"We are encouraged by the level of awareness among young people, their interest in staying informed, their knowledge of Government guidelines, and their high levels of commitment to following these, all of which suggests they are playing their part in the national effort, and know what is expected of them to do so.
"While we are buoyed that many young people are remaining positive amidst the emergency, we must acknowledge the many others who may not be managing as well.
"While the research suggests that the young people surveyed are open to expressing how they feel with those close to them, we ask that parents, guardians and relations check up on the young people in their lives by phone or email, and offer a listening ear to any worries or frustrations they may have."
Life after COVID-19
Sarah Rooney, Associate Director, Amárach Research stated: "Overall, the research reveals that the majority (68 per cent) of young people in Ireland are hopeful for the future, post-COVID-19, and are optimistic that society will change for the better.
"Those surveyed hope that wider society will re-evaluate life, and appreciate that which may have previously been taken for granted.
"They are also aware of communities coming together and hope that this will continue, as well as the positive environmental impact of the economic shutdown.
"However, among those (32 per cent) who think society will be impacted for the worse, 40 per cent worry about the threat of recession."
Ms Collier added that: "The strong interest among young people in helping their communities deal with the impact of the Coronavirus as demonstrated in these findings reinforces previous YSI / Amárach research in this area.
"The ‘YSI / Amárach Gen Z Index’, published in May 2019, found that this age group are keen to make a positive difference in the world and rated such contribution as the most important indicator of a successful life.
"Such contribution and participation should be encouraged and enabled as we collectively deal with and begin to emerge from this crisis to rebuild our country.
"Any discussions of the kind of world we wish to live in after this crisis must include young people’s perspectives.
"We must also listen to young people’s anxieties concerning a potential economic downturn, appreciating that it will likely be the second recession they have lived through, and be cognisant of the strain this may put on them and their families, and on their mental health in particular."
Open Call to Teenagers #YSIOpenCall
In light of these findings and as part of its response to COVID-19, YSI is launching an Open Call to Teenagers to submit ideas in response to the challenges they see emerging from this crisis.
The Open Call to Teenagers to explore, create and innovate around issues caused by Coronavirus runs from 20th April until 31st May.
YSI will provide support for young people to develop their ideas before submission.
Those with the most potential for impact will be given the opportunity to pitch to a digital panel of leaders from across business, NGO and Government, hosted by Virgin Media.
Ms Collier said: "YSI is looking for young people’s ideas on how to tackle the problems in our communities as a result of COVID-19.
"I would ask them to look around their home, family or community and see what is working, what is not working, and what can be done to help in this time of crisis.
"No idea is too big or too small, and I would encourage all young people to think about how they can explore, create, innovate and make a difference, and enter the YSI Open Call."
For more information, visit: www.youngsocialinnovators.ie.
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