Visible Network Labs (VNL), which published the report, has been hosting a social support research fellowship funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and has been working with four young adults to better understand the role of “social connectedness” — their relationships with others — in influencing outcomes for young people, ages 14–24.
VNL collaborated with the fellows to propose four research questions:
How do young adults think about and describe social connectedness?
How is social connectedness different for different groups of young people compared to older generations?
How do those differences impact how young adults access resources?
And how does their access to resources align with ways that youth want to connect with them?
This report focuses on providing insights on these research questions, using information from key informant interviews with young adults. The goal was to conduct exploratory interviews with young adults across the ages of 14–24 and from different locations throughout the United States. Critical to this project is getting the input of young adults representing different perspectives and opinions on how they view social connectedness, how they define social support and how they are accessing resources.
The Benefits of Engaging With Young Adults in Research
Findings & Stats
Informal Networks are Young Adults' First Choice
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of young adults go to their informal networks of family and friends when they need support.
Social Media is a Resource
Compared to high school-age youth, young adults over 18 were more likely to mention social media as a resource that older adults did not access.
One-Quarter Believe Their Networks are Small
Only 25% of the interviewees ages 16 to 18 thought their networks were meeting their needs.
Statements & Quotations
Why is looking at social connectedness and social support systems important? The lack of visibility on personal social support networks of young adults is due in large part to the unavailability of tools and metrics to assess the health of these networks, making it nearly impossible to support young adults through programs and interventions designed to strengthen them.
Most youth who were interviewed believed that their peers experienced similar connection patterns to themselves.
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