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Young people call on the media to help them form and sustain healthy and dependable relationships

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Fastn and Media Trust have worked with young people to co-produce guidance on how the media can help support young people form and sustain healthy and dependable relationships.

The guidance, created in response to polling among 16-24-year-olds carried out by Fastn, and a roundtable the two charities held with young people and sector experts recommends media:

  1. Show both the ups and downs of relationships
  2. Platform platonic relationships
  3. Amplify positive and relatable relationship role models
  4. Celebrate differences and combat stereotypes in relationships
  5. Let young people tell their own stories
  6. Show relationships at different life stages

Recommendations for how journalists, producers and media outlets can achieve this include: consulting specialists, prioritising social listening, and facilitating peer-to-peer discussion.

Two thirds of young people say that the media influences their peers’ expectations of relationships and almost half of young people (42 per cent) say the portrayal of ‘perfect’ and unrealistic relationships in the media poses a significant challenge to them forming and sustaining their own healthy and dependable relationships. They also called for better diversity in the representation of relationships, and the need for more positive relationship role models.

Huma, from Bradford, who took part in the roundtable said: “Getting to a healthy and dependable place in your relationship takes a lot of time and you often don’t see that in how relationships are represented in the media.”

Felix, from East Midlands and who also took part in the roundtable said: “As part of the LGBTQ+ community, progressively seeing more and more characters and situations on screen that I could directly relate to, had a huge, positive impact in my own life and relationships.”

Andrew South, Head of Youth Programmes, said:

“At Media Trust, we believe in the power of the media to change lives.

“Our work with Fastn confirmed how much influence the media’s portrayal of relationships can have on young people, and the potential impact the media can have in helping young people form and sustain healthy and dependable relationships. From increased and more authentic inclusion to relationship role models that young people can relate to, we’ve consulted with young people on what they’d like to see from the media and how it might be able to achieve it.

We hope that with support from journalists, producers, and outlets on this work, that we can build a safer and more supportive future for all young people and their approach to and understanding of relationships.”

Catherine Hine, Fastn CEO said,

“How we experience relationships as children and young people is foundational not just to our mental and physical health, but also to our life outcomes. The media play a huge role in shaping how young people see relationships, so we hope through the implementation of the new media guidance more young people will have the chance to develop healthy, dependable relationships throughout their lives”. 

Media Trust and Fastn are calling for journalists, producers, and social media platforms to use this guidance as a springboard to start reflecting on and taking action to best support young people in forming and sustaining healthy and dependable relationships.

To access the guidance in full and learn what you can do to support better futures for young people, click here.

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