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RBC Kids Optimism Survey shows late-teens hit hard by quarter-life crisis


Dramatic decline in happiness and optimism happens during late-teens
Girls happier than boys, but boys more excited about the future


TORONTO, November 20, 2014 -  Everyone’s heard of the mid-life crisis, which can strike adults in their mid-40s and 50s. A new poll from RBC shows that teens and young adults are having a “quarter-life” crisis of their own. According to data from the first RBC Kids Optimism Survey, youth aged 18 to 21 are significantly less happy, less optimistic, less excited about their future, and are less likely to say the things they do in their daily life are worthwhile compared to kids aged 10 to 17. Just 57 per cent of these young adults feel they can achieve anything they want, and only 59 per cent say they frequently smile, much less often than teens aged 14 to 17 (78 per cent).

A new poll from RBC shows that teens and young adults are having a

A new poll from RBC shows that teens and young adults are having a "quarter-life" crisis of their own.
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The survey of nearly 2,400 Canadian youth aged 10 to 25 shows that although Canadian kids are optimistic overall, a dramatic shift in attitudes, behaviours and beliefs occurs as teens reach early-adulthood and the realities of life set-in.

“When young people leave the safety net of high school, they transition to a less-structured and sometimes isolating world of university, college or job-hunting. They are thrust into dealing with the realities of life,” says Dr. Anthony Levitt, chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “This stressful period is also often a time when youth turn to drugs and alcohol, which can exacerbate their pessimistic outlook on the world. We also know that this is the age at which youth can show the early signs of mental illness, which will affect their perception of the possibilities available to them and their sense of overall happiness.”

Topline Findings Among Those Aged 10 to 25

Attitudes toward life, future, family change in late-teens
  • As teens age, they’re less likely to say they have a good life, that their family believes in them and makes them feel good.

Girls are happier than boys, but boys are more excited about the future

  • When it comes to level of excitement about the future, boys (67 per cent) are more excited than girls (60 per cent).
  • While most Canadian kids would describe themselves as happy, a dramatic decline occurs in the late-teen years.
  • Most boys aged 14 to 17 report being happy (81 per cent), which drops 18 points to just 63 per cent among those aged 18 to 21 compared to 69 per cent of girls in the same age range.

Satisfaction with life and tendency towards optimism drop among late teens

  • While 95 per cent of teens aged 14 to 17 say they’re satisfied with their life, satisfaction dips sharply to 82 per cent among those aged 18 to 21, and 79 per cent among those aged 22 to 25.

Positive feelings are lowest, negativity highest, among those aged 18 to 21

  • Frequent feelings of happiness and laughter decrease 20 per cent among those aged 18 to 21; smiling drops 19 per cent, while stress and worry both jump more than 30 per cent

Girls smile more, but also worry more, than boys

  • Top worries among both genders include money (68 per cent), things happening in the world (66 per cent), getting or having a job (63 per cent), knowing what career to pursue (57 per cent) and their parents (50 per cent).

“The survey shows that while age plays a significant role in optimism, gender influences when and why kids face stress and worry” said Lisa Wolff, director of Policy and Education, UNICEF Canada. “Studies in other countries typically find that girls experience more stress and worry and lower optimism than boys, but RBC’s survey suggests that older boys are also experiencing difficulty. Asking young people about their lives, as the RBC Kids Optimism Survey does, can assist us in defining the best ways to reach and support them.”

For more than half (51 per cent) of Canadian kids, the opinions of mentors play an important role in how they feel, think and behave. And while majority of Canadians aged 10-25 say that they are interested in learning new things (89 per cent), many lack confidence that they have the life skills needed for a successful future.

The survey shows the important role that mentors play and RBC today announced $2.86 million in funding to 109 community-based after school programs across Canada through the RBC After School Project. These include programs for inner-city children and Aboriginal kids that teach school and life skills through activities such as computer instruction, sports, literacy tutoring, music and art lessons, nutrition guidance, and homework help.

“Our research shows that children benefit significantly from mentorship and a solid after school program can give a real boost to the skills and knowledge students gain in a formal classroom,” said Shari Austin, vice-president, Corporate Citizenship & executive director, RBC Foundation. “We support programs that have a direct impact on the lives of Canadian kids at all ages, giving them a chance to participate in many activities where they have the chance to shine.”

About the RBC Kids Pledge
The RBC Kids Pledge is a $100 million commitment over five years to help one million kids and youth across Canada. These funds will go towards a range of programs supporting the well-being of kids and youth, including the RBC After School Project, RBC Learn to Play Project and the RBC Children’s Mental Health Project.

About the RBC Kids Optimism Survey
The RBC Kids Optimism Survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid from October 20 to November 3. For the survey, a sample of 2,387 youth aged 10 to 25 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel. Quotas and weights were employed to ensure that the sample as closely as possible reflects the overall population of Canadian kids. The accuracy of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the aggregate results are considered accurate to within ± 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of youth in Canada been surveyed. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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For more information, please contact:
Kelly Olive, Veritas Communications, 416-640-4153
André Roberts, RBC, Communications, 416-313-7436


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