In an age where voicing your opinions to millions across the world is as simple as pressing a button on a screen, it is unsurprising that the members of Gen Z are so comfortable discussing pressing causes and issues openly in public.
Fifty years ago, young people attending protests for Racism or LGBTQ+ rights were looked down upon for standing up for others. Now Pride events are held on a mass scale each year across the country, and Black Lives Matter hashtags and resource links can be found in most teenagers’ profile bios.
With this in mind, we surveyed young people between 11 and 251 to gather insight into how confident they feel about sharing causes they care about on social media, why they feel confident in doing this, and what issues actually matter to them the most.
Confidence posting online
Interestingly, our study found that 55% of young people regularly post about their opinions on social media, while a staggering 71% said that they feel more confident now than ever posting about causes they are passionate about. This majority could be due to the worldwide attention events such as George Floyd’s death and the murder of Sarah Everard received, causing young people around the world to use their voices and platforms to speak up about their own experiences.
When asked why they feel more confident to share their views online, three quarters (75%) said that they see other people sharing their views and that it makes them feel empowered to share theirs. Almost 50% said they think they should be able to post about whatever they want on their social media accounts. 47% believed it is important to voice your opinions online to help the causes you care about, and 32% said that it is easy to share their views online in a creative way and engage with others who share the same opinion.
Over half of those surveyed said they were hesitant to share opinions online due to fears of spreading false information (51%). 32% said that they didn’t want others to know their personal views. 30% said that they were not sure of the best way to share their thoughts, and another 30% said that they were worried about posts being used against them in the future.
When asked about which platform they feel most comfortable sharing opinions on, Snapchat came out on top with 36% for young people, closely followed by Instagram with 35% of the vote. Instagram became a vital platform during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, with the #BlackLiveMatters hashtag receiving nearly 30 million posts to date.
Rising app Tik Tok took 15% of the vote, and surprisingly only 8% of young people said they feel comfortable sharing their opinion on Twitter and only 6% on Facebook. This could likely be because these platforms have a much older average audience, Facebook being between 25-34 years old and Twitter between 30-49, whereas Tik Tok is between 18 and 242. This does pose the question – are young people more likely to receive backlash on platforms with an older average user age?
Causes or issues young people are most passionate about
It’s clear from this data that the majority of young people feel confident enough to speak up on issues online, but what issues do they actually care about in 2021?
- Racism (91%)
- Black Lives Matter (83%)
- Bullying (69%)
- Violence against Women (68%)
- Human Trafficking (61%)
- Poverty (60%)
- Gender Inequality (60%)
- Feminism (54%)
- Immigration/Refugees (54%)
- LGBTQ+ Rights (51%)
Racism (91%) and Black Lives Matter (83%) came out on top of our results. Some of the runners up included Bullying at 69%, Violence against women at 68% and Human Trafficking at 61%. Surprisingly, the least prioritised issue with only 37% of the vote was Climate Change.
This is a rather shocking statistic considering that 2019 saw nearly 7.6 million3 people protesting in the streets worldwide, and Youth Strikes saw young people missing school to attend events after being inspired by Greta Thunberg speech to the European Economic and Social Committee.
Supporting a cause
Although sharing their opinions online can help to educate others about a cause, it is intriguing to know what else young people have done to support a cause. Our study revealed that 41% have shared useful information to links and resources on their platforms for others as a way of supporting a cause they are passionate about.
Interestingly, 40% said that they have donated money to help support a cause and 31% said they have attended a protest in support of a cause. Over a fifth (22%) of those surveyed said they had volunteered and 20% said they had helped fundraise in support. Only 19% of those surveyed said that they’ve never actively supported a cause that they are passionate about.
- Survey conducted by Conscious Youth in June 2021