Teenagers in the UK feel 'hopeless' about their futures and believe their lives will be worse than their parents', new research shows

“It’s our job to make the world better for our children, not worse”

Teenager feeling hopeless about future
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A new survey conducted by the children’s charity Barnardo’s has revealed that more than half of teenagers in the UK believe their lives will be worse than those of their parents - and their worries have left many feeling 'hopeless.'

Parents of teenagers have a lot to worry about. There's always so many questions about their seemingly confusing behaviour, from wondering why they're sleeping in late to why they're so drawn to taking risks - and that's not to mention the worries about what will happen when your teen starts dating

But it's not just parents who are worrying. It turns out that teenagers themselves are also riddled with questions and worries about their lives and where they're headed - and their outlook is, unfortunately, pretty 'hopeless'. 

According to a new survey carried out by the children’s charity Barnardo’s, teens in the UK today are not only concerned about money, jobs and the climate crisis in relation to their futures, they actually think the fallout of these elements will make their lives worse than those of their parents

When research participants were asked to imagine their lives at the age of 30, 55% of teenagers said they believed their lives at that time would be worse than the previous generation's, while an additional 34% thought the next generation after them would still not have a better experience - perhaps explaining why so many teenagers are concerned about having children of their own

They are bleak findings and the teens know it. 9% of participants even went as far to say that they feel utterly 'hopeless' about their future, while 10% said they felt powerless to change anything about it.

Talking about the findings, Lynn Perry, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, said that the teens' beliefs are “a sign the social contract is broken and we’re at risk of failing the next generation."

She said, "It’s our job to make the world better for our children, not worse."

So what's causing their worries? Largely, it's money. “Everyone is struggling these days," one teenage respondent said. "My mum struggles to pay the bills and she’s a nurse with a master’s degree. I’m not that clever, so imagine my life will be harder than hers. We used to be able to go on holidays but Mum can’t afford it any more.”

Another added, "My parents got their mortgage at 21. I don’t think people my age will be able to do that.”

More bad news, the children's charity predicts that things aren't going to get any better. There has been a massive rise children’s mental health problems, largely due, according to the charity, to the rising use of social media that has recently seen half of teens admit to the fact they’re addicted to being online

But, if you're worried about your teenager's mental health, or are concerned about their view of their future, there are a few things you can do. Most importantly, parents need to learn how to talk about mental health with their children, something that's hard but that the NSPCC is trying to help with through their new online support for parents. 

You can also try gratitude journals, positivity planners and activity books for teaching kids to process their emotions and manage anxieties to help relieve a teenager's stress, or get stuck in with some free self-care ideas to help manage stress.

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for Goodto.com. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.