Study Reveals Teens' New Emotional Priorities in a Post-COVID World

Findings from The Family Room Upend Conventional Wisdom About Teen Passions, Health, and Activism

Insights company The Family Room released findings from the latest wave of their Passion Points Study that offers a vivid portrait of the teens that consumer brands and media properties will encounter in 2022. Grounded in the belief that consumers make decisions with their hearts and their heads, this research delivers the industry's only consistent and reliable measures of the emotional priorities that drive consumer choice.

This wave provides a stark portrait of where teens are headed as people, including an in-depth look at their trending emotional priorities around activism, health, and rebellion against a world they are increasingly unwilling to tolerate. The following are four key findings from the Passion Points study about where teens are today and where they are headed in 2022:

Reasserting Control

Teens showing a simmering desire to revolt against their COVID-induced new normal and a hunger to reassert personal agency. Corresponding declines in the emotional significance of belonging and achievement show teens de-valuing external approval as an emotional priority and adopting an "on my own" mindset. 

Where Teen Health Is Headed

Right now, teens' emotional wellbeing is dominant over other personal priorities related to physical health and safety from harm. However, these three pillars of wellbeing have begun to converge over the past three years, indicating a slow but steady rebalancing of teens' wellbeing needs towards physical health and personal safety.

What Makes Happy Teens Unique

The emotional mindset of happier teens is colored by a prevailing focus on family, agency, and engagement with the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their unhappy peers' emotional priorities reveal a dire need for acceptance, resilience, and belonging.

Pressure-Testing Teen Activism

Contrary to popular belief, teens' leading emotional priorities reveal that personal needs like happiness, independence, and achievement carry far more weight in their hearts than external concerns like inclusivity, altruism, and climate change. While the social ills of the world may indeed be very important to today's teens, their emotional priorities tell us they must first remake themselves before they remake the world.

"There has been a great deal of speculation on where teens are headed as people and the brands and media properties they will gravitate to as consumers in 2022. Now we have data on what is most important to this audience at their very core," said The Family Room CEO George Carey. "As we come out of COVID and beyond, we can now see the lasting changes in their emotional DNA that began before and will extend well beyond the pandemic, which has essentially redefined and redirected this generation."

The data cited here come from TFR's Passion Points study, the industry's leading study of consumer sentiment. This wave was fielded in July 2021 among 750 teens 13-18 YO along with a broader sample of kids, teens, adults, and parents.

Source: The Family Room