Youth are optimistic about improving the world despite mental health and climate concerns. they still have concerns but they see themselves as part of the solution.

According to a new international survey released by UNICEF and Gallup ahead of World Children’s Day,

In comparison with the older generation, Children and young people are nearly 50 percent more likely to believe that the world is becoming a better place with each generation.

The study surveyed two different age groups in 21 countries – people in the age group 15-24 and 40-plus – sampled from different socioeconomic groups, to compare the attitudes.

Youth
Youth

 

According to the findings, young people are more positive and socially aware than their elders, skeptical of what they read on social media (only 17% of young people said they trusted social media platforms “a lot” for information), and more enthusiastic about science and the possibility of global cooperation and international institutions.

 

Furthermore, the young people surveyed were also more likely to believe childhood had improved, voting, healthcare, education, and physical safety as being better for them than it had been for the generation of their parents.

 

“Born into a more digital, interconnected and diverse reality, young people see a world that is largely a better place for children than the one their parents grew up in – a safer and more abundant world that offers children a better education, opportunities, and hope for the future,” the report concludes.

The survey found young people to be more globally-minded and 

optimistic than their elders.

 

Unicef’s executive director, Henrietta Fore, said:

“At the same time, young people are not complacent. They report greater struggles with mental health conditions. Amid a sea of mist- and disinformation, they report low levels of trust in the information sources they use most.”

 “There is no shortage of reasons for pessimism in the world today: climate change, the pandemic, poverty and inequality, rising distrust and growing nationalism. But here is a reason for optimism: children and young people refuse to see the world through the bleak lens of adults.”

Compared with older generations, she said: 

“The world’s young people remain hopeful, much more globally minded, and determined to make the world a better place. Today’s young people have concerns for the future but see themselves as part of the solution.”

Overall, the data suggests

 39% of young people identify strongly with being part of the global community rather than with their own country or region, compared with 22% of people in their 40s and older. 

The survey – conducted during the pandemic – also finds that children and young people are generally more trusting of national governments, scientists, and international news media as accurate sources of information.

They are more likely to embrace international cooperation to tackle threats like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, the poll indicates that young people today are aware of the world’s problems:

  • The majority of young people saw serious risks for children online, such as seeing violent or sexually explicit content or being bullied
  • Young people in high-income countries expressed little confidence in economic progress while 64% of those in low- and middle-income countries believed children would be better off economically than their parents. Less than a third of respondents believed that children today would grow up to have better economic circumstances than their parents.
  • More than one-third of young people reported often feeling nervous or anxious, and almost one in five reports feeling depressed or having little interest in trying new things.
  • On average, 59% of young people said children today faced more pressure to succeed than their parents did.

The poll also finds young people want faster progress in the fight against discrimination, more cooperation among countries, and for decision-makers to listen to them:

  • On average, nearly three-quarters of young people who are aware of climate change believe governments should take significant action to address it. The share is even higher in low- and lower-middle-income countries (83 percent) where the impact of climate change is expected to be greatest.  
  • In nearly every country surveyed, large majorities of young people report that their countries would be safer from threats like COVID-19 if governments worked in coordination with other countries rather than on their own.
  • Young people demonstrate stronger support for LGBTQ+ rights, with young women leading the fight for equality.  
  • On average, 58 percent of 15-24-year-olds believe it is very important for political leaders to listen to children.

 

The study found some strong alignment between young older generations notably in the areas such as climate change, education, global collaboration, and children’s agency. By contrast, optimism, global mindedness, and recognition of historical progress reflected some of the deepest divides.

 

Joe Daly, the senior partner at Gallup, said: “We cannot know what is on the minds of young people if we do not ask them. 

“UNICEF’s survey reinforces the importance of hearing from the next generation and understanding their perspectives,” said Joe Daly, “The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow; it is crucial for older generations to do their part to ensure our children inherit a better world.”

He added: “While this research paints a nuanced view of the generational divide, a clear picture emerges: children and young people embody the spirit of the 21st century far more readily than their parents”

Source: UNICEF

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