Despite Ominous Reports, Most Teens Remain Optimistic About The Future

A new survey found that 80% of teenagers have a positive outlook on their future.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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There is an age-old saying that says children are resilient. However, many have feared that this longstanding belief is dangerous, and further stigmatizes children prone to mental health struggles. The pandemic exacerbated a youth epidemic of suicide, anxiety, and depression among teenagers, but a new survey might just prove that timeworn saying true.

ACT Research recently released an extensive survey of teenagers and their perspectives on the future. This generation of children has witnessed struggles unseen by their parents and even grandparents. But despite countless ominous reports about their mental health risks, more than 80% possess positive outlooks.

Overall, 55% of teenagers remained as hopeful about their future now as they did prior to the pandemic. This group believed they have just as good of a chance at seeking well-paying jobs, becoming homeowners, and keeping good health down the road. All of this comes despite the massive negative outlooks regarding American health and well-being brought on by COVID-19 and the falling economy. 

What’s more, Black teenagers were significantly more optimistic about their future than of any other ethnic demographic surveyed. Students were asked how likely they were to procure 17 various positive life outcomes ranging from topics of well-paying careers they enjoy to living a better life than their parents. Black students held confident takes in the most categories, heading the ranks with 9 out of 17 positives.

On the contrary, White students were the least likely to feel confident in their positive outlooks for certain categories. These teenagers ranked lowest in their perspective for fairing better in life than their parents. However, they ranked much higher than respondents of color in the category asking teens if they felt confident that they would have the financial means to complete college.

Racial differences aside, the overall confident outlook forecasted in this survey comes as a welcoming surprise at a time when foreboding reports of teenager struggles are on the rise. The youth mental health crisis has been worsening for years, but youth experts fear that the pandemic only worsened the problem, turning it into a national emergency. Nearly one in three high school-aged students reportedly struggle with mental health issues.

Despite this optimistic report, the seriousness of teenagers’ mental health issues should not be downplayed merely because youth are documenting positive outlooks for the future. Nearly one-third of respondents did note that they feel that their views regarding their futures would have been even more hopeful had the pandemic never happened. Likewise, a conveyance of optimism doesn’t negate the existence of negative thoughts and feelings.

Will the pandemic have long-lasting effects on generation z teenagers? This is a question with no clear-cut answer. Looking at the state of America in terms of the cost of living, addiction struggles, mental health concerns, and the cost to obtain a college education, the outlook is dismal.


However, wealth doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness, and teenagers today understand that more than ever. America’s youth are adapting to an ever-changing world filled with uncertainties. But the fact that this young generation remains hopeful for the future is a promising sign of things to come.