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May 04 2022
We asked young people who they look to for guidance and support outside of their friends and family. Here’s what they say…
YPulse has been tracking Gen Z and Millennials’ thoughts and feelings about religion (or the lack thereof) and their shift to more spiritual beliefs for years. These generations have embraced spirituality, with more saying they consider themselves spiritual then say they consider themselves religious. Over half tell YPulse that organized religion is a thing of the past, and their move away from traditional faith has only increased since the pandemic. But at the same time, the majority agree “I’m looking for something that will help me to live a better life” and “I wish I had more spiritual guidance in life.” We know that young people aren’t likely to find their sense of community in religious organizations, but who or what are they turning to for that guidance?
In our recent Religion and Spirituality behavioral report we asked 13-39-year-olds. “Besides family and friends, who do you look to for guidance and support?” Out of a list of 18 options, ranging from in-person communities to individuals like teachers and influencers, here were their top responses:
Religious organizations and figures don’t make the top 10 ranking of sources of guidance for Gen Z
Religious figures and orgs are not a top source of guidance or support for either generation, but they do make Millennials’ top 10 ranking while failing to appear on Gen Z’s. Only 10% of Gen Z tell YPulse they turn to religious organizations for support and guidance, and while they’re nearly as likely as Millennials to say they turn to religious figures (13% of Gen Z versus 14% of Millennials) other sources outrank this choice for the younger gen. Our religion and spirituality data shows that Gen Z is less likely than Millennials to say that religion is very or extremely important to them. Interestingly, they’re actually more likely than Millennials to say they believe in God and to say they would describe themselves as religious if they had to choose between religious and spiritual–but only 11% say that their religious community is a big part of their life. In short, though more may consider themselves religious, the structures around that religion aren’t necessarily providing them guidance.
Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to look to musicians and artists for guidance and support
We told you that music artists are Gen Z’s favorite celebrities—and while virtual concerts were a popular way to reach young consumers in the last two years, some musicians have released more intimate, tell-all documentaries to share more personal aspects of their lives with the world, while more of them have also been jumping on platforms like Community and Cameo to actually have conversations with fans. But for Gen Z, music fandom is more than just entertainment–many see the musicians they love as sources of guidance and support. The fact that musicians and artists outrank all other choices of support sources for this gen speaks to the important role that music plays in their lives.
Millennials are more likely to look to therapists for guidance and support
Instead of musicians and artists, therapists are the top resource that Millennials look to for guidance and support outside of their family and friends. Our mental health research found that Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say they are interested in speaking one-on-one with someone about their mental health, while nearly one in five Millennials are interested in individual therapy. We told you that therapists are a profession that have joined TikTok to connect with users on the app and give them tips on everything from how to manage their mental health, to how to find the right therapist for them, allowing more young people to have more access to therapy.
Comedians and online influencers are a top source for guidance and support for Gen Z
Early on during the pandemic, we told you that pure content was popular as young people turned to content that makes them happy during a tumultuous time, and it seems as though Gen Z especially has been turning to them for guidance and support outside for their friends and family. Companies like TikTok have been finding ways to leverage more young comedic talent on the platform, including debuting a sketch comedy show featuring creators that offers TikTokers “the best in social media and influencer comedy with segments, sketches, musical bits” and more, streaming live each week for 40-60 minutes on a dedicated TikTok Live channel. Meanwhile, online influencers are another source of guidance and support that Gen Z are turning to aside from their friends and family. In recent years, YouTubers and other influencers have been more transparent about their mental health, and the burnout they suffer from being influencers, which probably resonates with the many young creators making more content online.
YPulse Business users can access the full Religion and Spirituality behavioral report and full data here.
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