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Generation Isolation: OnSide Youth Research 2023

Generation Isolation is based on responses from 5,072 young people in England aged 11-18, conducted in partnership with YouGov. We wanted to shine a spotlight on the social lives of young people by learning more about the 85% of time they spend outside of school – so that we, and organisations that support and care about young people, can advocate for support that better meets their needs.

The research lays bare the devastating consequences of the cost of living crisis on young people’s lives and opportunities outside of school. It also shows that young people continue to live lives dominated by online interactions and isolation – rather than experiencing the face-to-face activities, opportunities and social connection that develop vital confidence and skills for adulthood.

View the key findings infographic

YOUNG PEOPLE AND THE COST OF LIVING

69%

of young people are concerned about the cost of living

72%

of young people from the least affluent households are concerned about the cost of living

26%

of young people have had to stop out of school activities because of the cost of living

30%

of young people from less affluent households have stopped activities because of the cost of living

74%

of young people’s cost of living concerns are related to worries about their families

40%

of those worried about the cost of living are concerned about their family not being able to pay bills

29%

of those worried about the cost of living are concerned about their families not being able to afford food

24%

of those worried about the cost of living are concerned about not being able to afford further education like college or university

21%

of those worried about the cost of living are concerned about not being able to learn to drive

The impact of the cost of living on young people

YOUNG PEOPLE'S MOST TIME CONSUMING FREE TIME ACTIVITIES

76%

spend most of their free time on screens (compared with 73% in 2022)

27%

of young people say they spend most of their free time outside school playing computer games

22%

of young people say they spend most of their leisure time using their phone to communicate with friends

21%

of young people spend most of their leisure time watching streamed content (e.g. Netflix, YouTube)

WHERE DO YOUNG PEOPLE SPEND THEIR FREE TIME?

51%

spend most of their free time in their bedrooms

80%

of young people spend most of their free time at home

1%

of young people spend most of their free time hanging out on the streets

WHO DO YOUNG PEOPLE SPEND THEIR FREE TIME WITH?

18%

of young people spend most of their free time alone

10%

spend most of their free time in person with their friends

32%

spend most of their free time online communicating with friends

Young people and youth services

91% of young people do not attend a youth centre, and almost half of young people (43%) do not know what youth work is when asked. Of people who said that youth centres have had a positive difference on their life, 33% of them said that making friends was their reason for thinking this, making it the most popular reason.

89%

of young people that attend a youth centre say it has a positive impact on their lives

86%

of young people say going to a youth club has offered then new experiences and opportunities

83%

of young people say going to a youth club has given them new skills

72%

of young people say going to a youth club has helped them overcome the difficulties they face

WHO ARE YOUNG PEOPLE'S TRUSTED ADULTS?

92%

of young people naming parents as people they feel they can trust and talk to

40%

of young people consider their teacher to be a trusted adult

41%

of young people do not have a trusted adult in their life outside of their family

2%

of young people do not have a trusted adult they can trust and talk to

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?

88%

feel able to relax and have fun outside of school

40%

do not have opportunities to meet new people or make friends beyond their social group outside of school

22%

do not have opportunities to take part in sport and physical activity outside of school

24%

of young people say they do not have a safe space where they feel belonging

HOW YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT THEIR LIVES

67%

reported high or very high levels of satisfaction with their life

50%

reported high or very high feelings of anxiety

66%

of young people reported high or very high feelings that the things they do in their life are worthwhile

71%

of young people reported high or very high levels of happiness

The top 4 causes of anxiety amongst young people

51%

concerns about their future (university, college, jobs etc)

46%

what people think of them

35%

exam pressure

26%

the cost of living crisis

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