Supporting young people through mobile technology

Today’s young people are a ‘digital generation’ for whom access to mobile technology and the internet is a given. This groundbreaking research identifies insights and trends in the way young people seek help in the mobile environment and demonstrates YouthNet’s innovative approach to supporting them.

Published on May 2013


To read the full insights, click here.

  • For me, my phone is a trusted friend

    For young people their mobile phone is a consistent presence and a trusted friend. Like any good friend it also serves as a supporter and motivator.

  • I want my phone to keep me productive

    Young people are under more pressure than ever to get it together. They report feeling stuck, out of control and unable to achieve their goals. They want their phones to keep them one track on time, prompting them into more productive behaviour.

  • I can benefit from distraction

    Stress is a consistent factor in young people’s lives. Games, collecting favourite pictures and music and even checking social media are all behaviours that can help young people de-stress a situation and give them the space to make reasoned choices about next steps

  • I need my answers now!

    Young people expect their phones to provide quick and focused information. 65% of young people turn to their phones if they need to find out something urgently and 63% use their phones to source local information on the move.

  • I don’t want to feel pressurised by my friends

    At the core of a young person’s relationship with their phone is the vital real time link it provides with their peer group. 59% of young people check social media every day yet young people report the strain of having to put on a show all the time and how this can be deeply corrosive to self esteem and personal image.

  • I want to take control of my identity

    Anonymity and privacy are probably the single biggest concerns that young people have when seeking support online. Young people are worried about how and with whom their data is being shared by service providers. This means that they are reluctant to access account based system or share personal details on their phones.

  • I want my phone to do more to support me

    Young people want their phones to do more for them and believe that technology can fill in the gaps where they struggle with challenging situations.

  • My phone is private event in a crowd

    Young people’s urgent need to have quick answers combined with the trusted and personal relationship they have with their phones means that they will use them to seek help and support on sensitive issues even when they are in public spaces.

  • I want my content to be creative and shareable but not patronising

    The contents of their mobile phone represents how a young person sees themselves. Many young people use their phones to collect their favourite music, pictures and apps and share these with their peers

  • I love the mobile web but I still call and text

    While the mobile web offers many opportunities, young people still use text and voice calls to seek direct one to one support from their family and peers.

Our approach

Our approach involved more than 1,000 young people to take part in focus groups, surveys and workshops. The insights gathered will inform the next stage in the project where we will work with 16-to-15 year-olds as well as experts to develop innovative and ambitious ideas on how to support young people through technology.

Exploration into young people’s behaviour and attitudes to mobile technology and help-seeking

YouthNet received funding from the Nominet Trust to explore young people’s behaviour and attitudes to mobile technology and help-seeking was key to assessing how YouthNet can meet their needs. Read more.

Co-creation stages

We ran co-creations sessions with young people and youth/technology experts to shape ambitious new strategic services for YouthNet to develop. Read more.

Cycle of Innovation Event

We believe that to keep pace with technology, non-profits and companies must collaborate to ensure a constant cycle of research and design that will generate technical innovations with social value. The Cycle of Innovation Event took the form of a panel discussion hosted by YouthNet and Nominet Trust at The Science Museum on the 16th May 2013. It brought together leading figures from the commercial world and the Third Sector to explore how we can truly harness technology for good and create a digital revolution to extend the services we provide for people in need.

Many thanks to the following organisations for their contributions…

  • Facebook
  • Depaul UK
  • The Open University
  • Get Connected
  • London School of Economics
  • O2
  • Ericsson

Our expert panelist

  • Chair: Dan Sutch (Head of Development Research for Nominet Trust)
  • Tracey Herald (Head of Community for O2)
  • John Cunliffe (CTO for Ericsson North Western Europe)
  • Mark O’Neill (Head of Innovation &Technology for Government Digital Services)
  • Jonathan Simmons (Director of Public Zone)
  • Lisa Bartlett (Head of Income Generation, Brook)
  • Asi Sharabi (Head of Strategy for Sidekick Studios)
  • Emma Thomas (CEO for YouthNet)

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