Mid-teens is most unhappy age, research finds

By Derren Hayes

| 22 July 2013

The most unhappy young people in the UK are 14- and 15-year-olds, research from The Children’s Society has found.

Teenager

Happiness drops markedly in the mid-teen years, The Children's Society report finds. Image: iStock

The charity’s second annual Good Childhood Report shows that children’s happiness and satisfaction levels overall have continued to stall following a rise from 1994 to 2008.

Among the 42,000 eight to 17-year-olds surveyed, those aged 14 and 15 were found to have the lowest sense of wellbeing.

This is based on a raft of factors including their families’ financial situation, health, education, behaviour, housing, sense of independence and their relationships with friends and family.

Around a sixth of 14- and 15-year-olds were considered to have a low sense of wellbeing, compared to four per cent of eight year olds.

The research found that 15-year-olds were particularly unhappy with the amount of choice they had over their lives.

Between the ages of eight and 15 the aspects of children’s lives where a sense of wellbeing fell were appearance, money, the future and school life. However, they became happier about these issues over the following two years.

The charity warns against dismissing unhappiness among teenagers as an inevitable part of adolescence.

Matthew Reed, The Children’s Society chief executive, said: “These findings clearly show that we can’t simply dismiss their low wellbeing as inevitable ‘teen grumpiness’. They are facing very real problems we can all work to solve, such as not feeling safe at home, being exposed to family conflict or being bullied.
 
“It is so important that we all listen and take seriously what children and teenagers are telling us.”

He also described the lack of progress in children’s sense of wellbeing as “incredibly worrying”.

YoungMinds director of campaigns, policy and participation, Lucie Russell blames “the unprecedented toxic climate children and young people face in a 24/7 online culture where they can never switch off” as well as the poor state of the economy for unhappiness among many teenagers.

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