A study conducted by American Student Assistance shows that only 30 percent of teens feel they have enough information to make a change

BOSTON, November 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — American Student Assistance® (ASA), a national non-profit organization transforming the way children learn about careers and find a path to post-secondary education and career success, conducted a quantitative study of more than 2,000 13- to 18 year olds across the country to gain insights into Gen Z attitudes and behaviors towards activism. This nationally representative survey reveals Gen Z’s confidence in their ability to engage effectively in social causes, sources of information and inspiration for social causes, the impact of their interest in social causes on career choices, and teens’ attitudes toward various social causes, including which ones Causes they advocate the most.

Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • About three in ten teens say they don’t have enough information to make changes or tools to make changes. Three in ten are confident that the causes they support will change/improve over the next five years, and between 30% and 42% of teenagers believe that petitioning elected officials will result in changes on each of these issues.
  • More than half of teens said their friends (54%) and social media (52%) give them information and inspiration about the causes that matter most to them. Half (50%) of teens said their parents and older family members provide them with information and inspiration. Half of the teens also said their friends influenced them to take an interest in the causes that matter most to them, while 46% said their parents and older family members and 44% said social media influenced them. Teens also rated the degree to which their parents or older family members taught them how to advocate for causes on a scale of one to 10, at 5.6, with 28% rating it an eight or higher. Additionally, most teens who use social media channels to get information for causes/charities use YouTube (69%), followed by TikTok (66%) and Instagram (55%).
  • A larger proportion of middle school students (45%) than early high school students (38%) or late high school students (40%) say that celebrities, athletes, or other influencers provide them with information and inspiration about the causes that matter most to them.
  • The survey also found that a quarter of teens say the causes they are interested in have had a major impact on their career choices.

Where does Gen Z stand on certain social issues and issues:

  • Causes that teenagers feel their generation can best advocate for: On a scale of 1-10, teenagers feel most effective advocating for issues of mental health and racial justice (6.4 each), gender equality (6.2), and LGBTQIA+ rights (6.1). You feel least effective advocating for climate change (5.0), while teenagers feel their peers have only a certain likelihood (5.0 on a scale of 1-10) of taking action and caring for the environment.
  • The future of global warming: Only about half (49%) say they know the steps they and their families can take to reduce their carbon footprint, but only 24% are taking action to deal with the crisis.
  • Bridging the Reproductive Rights Gap: Almost half of teenagers (49%) are [still] unsure if they interfere reproductive rights next year, whether they’re pro-choice or pro-life. Only 29% of teens plan to get involved, while 22% do not plan to engage in this hot topic.
  • Views on gender equality: A full 60% of teens surveyed agree that women have either slightly fewer (36%) or far fewer (24%) rights in the workplace than their male counterparts.
  • Mental health concerns: Gen Z feel like their peers are affected fear (more than four in ten feel this way), followed by depression (28%) and drug/alcohol abuse (13%). They feel that more than other parties, health care provider should be primarily financially responsible for the treatment of mental health problems. Almost half (46%) feel their peers do not have adequate access to mental health support services.
  • How/who promotes advocacy?: You say more high-profile LGBTQIA+ leaders and women leaders speak out will make a difference when it comes to tackling LGBTQIA+ discrimination and gender equality, more and differently education in school will impact changes related to mental health (58%), racial equality (55%), climate change (52%), gender equality (50%) and LGBTQIA+ rights (51%). Between 30% and 42% of teenagers think petitioning elected officials will lead to changes on these issues.
  • schools act: Almost two-thirds (63%) of middle school and high school students say more or differently education in school can inspire Gen Z students to support and address mental health issues — while just over half (53%) say social media can contribute to raising awareness and advocacy.

“It is clear that many of today’s young people feel that their voices are not being heard. At ASA, we’re passionate about working with children to ensure they have the tools they need to shape their own future, whether that’s by exploring education and career paths that match their passions or helping them build self-confidence and become effective advocates for the issues that matter most to them. With Next Voice, we’re meeting them where they are – online – to ensure as many children as possible have access to the resources they need to speak up for themselves and what’s important to them in the world.” , she said Ton ColarussoCMO and SVP of digital strategy at ASA.

In an effort to give teenagers a bigger voice on the issues that matter to them, ASA started next vote™, a free digital advocacy platform that gives teens the lifelong and career-ready skills they need to effectively advocate for the social issues that matter most to them. The digital experience enables young people to engage with current social concerns, take action and acquire valuable, real-world skills, while providing opportunities to test and apply what they have learned in real time.

ASA co-developed the platform with a nationwide panel of junior high school teen advisors on design and discrete features and functionality, with qualitative validation based on feedback from more than 2,700 additional young people.

Next Voice™ provides the resources and expertise children need to become effective advocates and is designed to give teens ages 13-18 the digital experience that addresses issues such as racial justice, mental health, climate change and… LGBTQIA+ topics can be explored independently . Whether on their phone, laptop or other device, kids can learn how to write and speak powerfully about causes important to them, find allies and organizations with decision-making power, and create their own community of interest outside of the platform.

With Next Voice™, teenagers can:

  • Find, source, and validate information on the topics they care about most through five learning modules, each containing more specific, bite-sized lessons consisting of interactive multiple-choice quizzes, slider assessments, Mad Libs exercises, and other inspirational activities consist of learning.
  • Watch a total of 15 informative videos, also included in these 28 bite-sized lessons that help young people become effective advocates while building valuable career-ready and lifelong skills. These skills—the ability to research, refine arguments, communicate viewpoints, and work with others towards a common cause—are all skills every student needs to be career-ready.
  • Learn how to become a successful advocate with content from ASA subject matter experts in the fields of advocacy and education, and understand what your peers are saying on issues important to them, including climate change, life after high school, LGBTQIA+, racial justice, and Gender equality.
  • Develop the research, writing, public speaking, organizational and other skills they need to make a difference, as well as strategies for putting their voice into action, including adapting materials to include letters to lawmakers or editors write, speak in public, and encourage peers and community members to get involved. Teens will also be able to take action with three downloadable, premium writing templates that teens can customize to address lawmakers. The platform also features nine unique tip sheets to help teens speak effectively in public across a variety of audiences and forums to encourage their peers, community members and decision makers to get involved.
  • Gain professional maturity skills including written communication, building trust, organizing behind a cause, and researching and confirming the source and validity of content and data.

Methodological Statement: This press release summarizes the results of a quantitative, nationally representative online survey of 13- to 18-year-old US teenagers in the 7thth-12th Grades. The study was conducted Sep 2022 with a total sample size of 2,087. The data are proportionally representative of race and region and have been weighted for even distribution across grade level and gender.

About American Student Assistance® (ASA)

American Student Assistance® (ASA) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping students learn about themselves, their options, and make informed decisions to achieve their educational and career goals. ASA believes that all students should have equal access to careers learning from middle school onwards so that they can develop a plan for their future. ASA fulfills its mission by delivering digital-first programs, resources and experiences, including future landscape® and next vote™, directly to millions of students, in addition to supporting educators and facilitators. To learn more about ASA, visit

SOURCE American Student Assistance (ASA)

Leave a Comment