Barnardo’s London has published the findings of its new Digital Listening report
In order to understand more about the emerging vulnerabilities faced by young Londoners, Barnardo’s London teamed up with UK-based market research company Brandwatch, to listen to what young people are talking about in conversations online.
The aim of the research was to gain insight into young people’s hopes, fears, aspirations and concerns, so that Barnardo’s can target its services in London to what they really need.
The survey, completed between May and June 2020 by just over 1,000 young Londoners aged 13-25, asked questions about mental health, loneliness and the impact of the digital world and found that issues related to these were amplified among trans young people.
The report showed poor mental health was a significant obstacle for many young Londoners, but particularly for those identifying as trans (34% versus 27% of girls and 18% of boys).
Young people aged 19-21 (46%) were more likely to say their mental health was a considerable obstacle than any other age and the top three contributors to poor mental health were low self-esteem (39%), feeling lonely/isolated (28%) and school stress (28%).
A considerable proportion of respondents said they frequently felt lonely, but this was amplified among young trans people in London, with almost 40% saying that they experience feelings of loneliness ‘all of the time’. The report found that many young Londoners do not have adequate social support networks, however there were other reasons at play as to why many young Londoners feel such levels of loneliness.
The majority of young Londoners feel neutral about the overall influence of the internet and social media on their lives. The report found that exposure to negative online experiences such as pornographic and violent content was particularly high amongst younger children, aged 13 to 18.
Lynn Gradwell, Director for Barnardo’s London, said: "The results of our Digital Listening Project make for sobering reading and show young people in London face widespread levels of loneliness which can have a catastrophic impact on their emotional health and wellbeing.
“Nearly half of the trans young people that we spoke to felt lonely ‘all of the time’ which is a shocking statistic and deeply worrying. With over a third of respondents in this group requesting the support of GPs and doctors services to improve their mental health, this also suggests the clinical needs of trans youth in the capital are currently not being met.
“We want to use the findings of this research to improve our service delivery and ensure all young people get the mental health support they need.”
Barnardo’s London plan to use the findings to continue conversations with young Londoners. Through listening and collaborating they hope to learn how they can better meet their needs and start discussions about how the research can inform its influencing work and partnerships with other organisations in London.