MTV and the Associated Press (does this seem like a weird combination to anyone but me?) just completed a survey of young people ages 13-24 about their happiness. I guess so they can keep making them feel unhappy in order to sell them crap they think will provide utter bliss. I don’t think I am far off in this assertion. The following is at the bottom of the press release: MTV has an esteemed research pedigree and this study is part of the network’s ongoing commitment to maintaining an unparalleled understanding of the youth audience.
But I digress.
One of the most interesting findings was that when polled about their overall happiness, young whites are happier than blacks and Hispanics by a wide margin: 72 percent of whites say they are happy with life in general, compared with just 56 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics.
Are you shocked?
Other findings were:
1. General Happiness – The study found that overall, most American young people (aged 13-24) report being happy with their lives and are optimistic about the future. 65 percent of respondents say they are happy with the way things are going in their lives in general and 62 percent think they will be happier in the future than they are now. Only one out of five say they are unhappy. Young people who are non-Hispanic whites are happier than blacks and Hispanics by a wide margin: 72 percent of whites say they are happy with life in general, compared with just 56 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics.
2. Parents, Family and Relationships – Parents are seen as an overwhelmingly positive influence in the lives of most young people. Remarkably, nearly half of respondents mention at least one of their parents as a hero. When asked “What one thing in life makes you most happy?” 46 percent of respondents say spending time with friends, family and loved ones. 30 percent of blacks and Hispanics identified family as the one thing in life that brings them the most happiness, compared with 15 percent of whites.
3. Religion and Spirituality – Religion and spirituality are an integral part of happiness for most American young people. 44 percent say that religion and spirituality are either a very important or the single most important thing in their lives, with more than one in ten reporting the latter. And those for whom religion and spirituality play a bigger role in life tend to be happier. 80 percent of those who say spirituality is the most important thing in life say they are happy with life in general, compared with 60 percent of those who say that spirituality is not an important part of life at all.
4. Fortune and Fame – Money and its relationship to the happiness of young people is a complicated issue. Almost no respondents mentioned anything financial or material as a source of happiness when asked an unaided question about what makes them happy. But many young people report financial woes as a source of unhappiness. In looking to the future, 70 percent say they want to be rich – and nearly half think it’s at least somewhat likely they will be someday – but just 29 percent want to be famous. Only 17 percent think they will be famous.
5. Technology – Cell phones, the Internet and other technologies are integrally woven into the lives of today’s young people and nearly two thirds say they make people happier. Half of those young people polled say the Internet alone helps them feel happier. And contrary to popular views of technology as a source of stress, many young people would be more stressed out without technology, with nearly half saying they never turn off their cell phones – even when they’re trying to chill out.