Social relationships have an impact on the resilience of young people

The theme of the Youth Barometer 2022 was the resilience of young people – the ability to be flexible, to adapt and recover. The research data was collected from persons aged 15 to 29 living in mainland Finland using the telephone interview method. The research interview was conducted with a total of 1,864 people. The Youth Barometer only tells about the situation of young people at one moment, and it is not possible to monitor the coping and recovery of young people comprehensively. However, research can be used to make visible the factors affecting resilience and the young age groups' perception of their own resilience.
Kuvassa neljä nuorta seisoo selkä kameraan päin kylki kyljessä katsoen aurinkoa.

In general, young people's satisfaction with life seems to be on the rise after the COVID years. In the Youth Barometer data, men (30.8) assessed their resilience as better than women (28.4). In other words, men believe in their own coping and overcoming adversity more strongly than women. In addition to women, those belonging to minorities, the unemployed and those who speak other languages estimated their resilience to be weaker.

The study revealed that friendships and family relationships play a major role in the young person's resilience. Young people who reported good family relationships estimated their coping and resilience as fairly good. Experiences that weakened resilience in young people were associated with repeated setbacks, such as the death of grandparents, problems at home, a parent's substance abuse problem, bullying and mental health problems.

Although friendships were found to have a positive impact on resilience, the quality of friendships is also important. According to the study, young people's face-to-face encounters with friends have decreased significantly over the past eight years. However, communication through the Internet and messages has not increased, and calling friends on the phone has decreased even further. Communication over the telephone and online has not replaced the decline in face-to-face meetings. It is believed that the COVID pandemic had negative impacts on young people's peer socialisation.

Any kind of communication with friends affects the loneliness, general well-being and resilience experienced by young people. The study found that the more communication there was, the less loneliness. Friendship relationships based on equality and sharing or time spent together were found to be key factors preventing loneliness. It was found that if friendships were found to be inadequate, even close relationships with parents or partners, for example, did not alleviate the experience of loneliness to the same extent.

How will these issues be reflected in the future and working life of young people? As working life becomes increasingly independent and self-directed, it is important that young people feel that they are coping and able to recover. Good resilience gives you the courage to try things and challenge yourself, because then you also strongly believe in overcoming failures. Young people will increasingly need these qualities in the future. These are also essential for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship and dreams of self-employment have increased among young people in recent years.

Social networks also play an enormous role in working life, especially as an entrepreneur. The impact of community and peer support on resilience must not be forgotten either when studying today's young people. Attention should therefore be paid to reduced contacts and meetings. When social relationships are on a strong foundation and young people have a supportive network around them, resilience develops over time. This guarantees young people the opportunity to succeed in the future.

Sources:
Antti Kivijärvi (ed.) Läpi kriisien (Through crises). Youth Barometer 2022, 16 March 2023 (in Finnish)

Finnish Youth Research Society Youth Barometer 2022: Nuorten arkeen liittyvät epävarmuuden kokemukset ovat vähentyneet (Experiences of uncertainty related to the everyday life of young people have decreased), 15 May 2023 (in Finnish)

Author:
Viivi Hanhineva, Bachelor student in media and arts, Communication Trainee, University of Oulu, Kerttu Saalasti Institute