Words: Eva O’Beirne
As part of the Growing Up In Ireland project, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has released its 2021 report which studied the well-being of young people born in 1998.
The report has revealed that almost one third of young Irish women and one in five young Irish men are experiencing symptoms linked to depression. The Growing Up Ireland project seeks to document young Irish people’s transition to adulthood.
The study was carried out just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit and followed the lives of young adults who were twenty years old in 2018-2019. Those surveyed have been observed by the researchers since they were nine years old.
A quarter of those surveyed reported above-normal levels of stress, and one in five had high scores on a measure of depressive symptoms. It found 32 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men scored highly for symptoms with strong links to depression.
Friends were the most popular source of emotional support, with 86 per cent of those surveyed saying they would talk to friends about their thoughts and feelings. Mothers were the next with 69 per cent while Fathers were some distance back, on 43 per cent.
Young people’s internet activity was also a major focus of the study. Over 50 per cent of year olds said they typically spent more than three hours online per day, with one in five spending more than five. Over a quarter had posted information on social media that they later regretted.
More than 90 per cent of all 20 year olds used the internet for social media, watching video content, searching for information, and messaging and calling people.
There were significant gender differences in some categories of online activity. While 68 per cent of young men used it for gaming, only 16 per cent of women did. Men also engaged more in both online dating and watching pornography.
The report also provided an insight into young people and their relationships. The majority (57 per cent) of 20 year olds were in a romantic relationship of some kind at the time of the survey. 84 per cent had had sex with over half becoming sexually active between the ages of 17 and 20.
One of the most alarming facts to come out of the report was that just over a third of sexually active 20 year olds used condoms every time during sex.
According to the HSE, the pandemic has contributed to a surge of undiagnosed sexually transmitted diseases. You can get a free at-home testing kit here.
Elsewhere on District: Just Eat announce take away award nominees