Teens with Faith Backgrounds Report Less Stress, New Global Study Finds

Teenagers and young adults with a faith background report having less stress than their counterparts who were raised with no faith, according to a new global study by Young Life. The survey of more than 7,000 young people from around the world between the ages of 13-24 is part of The RELATEProject. The report was conducted to learn more about what young people think and feel. Sections in the report will be released throughout this year; the second chapter was released this week.

The study reveals that today’s teens and young adults desire “authentic relationships” – “no fuss and nothing formal.”

“In short, they want to be invited to your dinner table – both literally and figuratively,” the study says.   

Teens and young adults are facing challenges that previous generations did not confront as they move from childhood to adulthood, the study says, noting that young people are growing up “in a world that’s overwhelmed by more digital access than their minds can process.”

“When teens can’t understand or cope with these feelings, they can develop anxiety, self-doubt, loneliness, or unhealthy coping behaviors,” the study says. “That’s why it’s so important for them to have adults in their lives who will lean in during this period and help them navigate unfamiliar territory.”

About one-third of teens and young adults experience high levels of stress as they “struggle to balance full schedules, societal expectations, personal goals, and lots of relationships,” the study says. This high level of stress is seen particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Faith, though, can help teens and young adults cope, the study says.

“Growing up with religion or faith can mitigate stress; teens with these upbringings report less stress overall,” the study says. “So it may be helpful to guide teens toward faith resources. Maybe they’ve drifted away somewhat; maybe they’re going to the internet instead of prayer.”

Meanwhile, today’s teens and young adults say they are more than twice as likely to go to friends (57 percent) or family members (54 percent) when facing a personal problem than they are to search the Internet for answers (23 percent). Teens and young adults want people of older generations to “just be themselves,” the study found. 

“In our research, we repeatedly saw the theme of Gen Z wanting to be in community and appreciating invitations to do so,” said Kimberly Nollan, director of research and evaluation at Young Life. “Sharing a meal together opens the door to expressing to someone that they are valued and loved, and it sets the scene to listen, ask questions, and build intentional relationships. We often overthink building relationships with Gen Z, but it can be as simple as inviting them to do life with you. Whether it’s extending an invitation to dinner on a weeknight, coming with you and your kids to the park, grabbing a smoothie after a sports game or running errands together, they want to know they’re welcome, valued and cared about, and that they belong.”

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/People Images

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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