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Youth prefer search engines to friends when seeking advice

Youth prefer search engines to those around them when seeking advice

A recent Colmar Brunton youth survey finds young people are turning to Google and other websites for help before family, friends and professionals.
The survey of more than 400 young people, commissioned by youth development organisation Youthline, shows 64 per cent of those surveyed listed Google and other websites as the most common place to access information about sex, drugs, alcohol, depression, health and other issues. Talking to friends was the second most common, at 46 per cent , followed by TV shows and magazines at 15 per cent and 11 per cent , respectively.

The anonymity of the internet mitigates feelings of embarrassment young people have about asking for help, which the survey identified as the biggest barrier to getting support and assistance from a support organisation. However, the opportunity for misinformation from sources such as the Internet and television are a concern to Youthline.

“The need for a safe, engaging, and informative online space for young people has never been more evident,” said Youthline Auckland CEO Stephen Bell, “we, in partnership with young people and other likeminded organisations, are committed to delivering such a space.”

Youthline has been developing its online experience through YouthONline (YO!), with the generous support of the Vodafone World of Difference Programme. In addition to an updated web presence, the project will also see the delivery of a suite of cutting edge tools including a web chat counselling platform, a social media style platform, and face-to-face video counselling, identified by the survey as the most important service to provide support for young people.
In addition to YO!, Youthline is working alongside Auckland University and Lifeline in the delivery of the recently released computer-based E-therapy programme called SPARX, a tool which uses computer game technology to help young people navigate their way through depression.

As the most recognised New Zealand Youth Support Agency, with prompted recognition at 80% and unprompted at 53%, according to the survey, Youthline is well placed as a key online hub of information, advice, and community for young people, and their supporters. In addition to being available online, providing personal support in person, on the phone, and over text are also more important than ever.

In addition to embarrassment, one in two young people cite cost as a barrier to seeking help from a support organisation. Youthline’s free helpline is available 24/7 and it’s free text service is available between 8am and midnight. It costs $800,000 a year to run the helpline, which equates to $90/hour, or $1.50 a minute. Last year over 250,000 contacts were managed by Youthline with 24,000 young people supported.

This Youth Week, watch for our Street Appeal volunteers on May 23rd and 24th, as they collect donations to support these core services which connect young people to the help they need.


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