Saturday, June 1, 2013

Stage of Life survey of US teens

Back in March the web site had a national poll and writing contest for teens in the US. About 5700 of them visited their web site. The contest asked teens to write an essay with 500 words or less on the topic:

“When have you applied the phrase ‘No Fear‘ in your life?” 

Over 176 teens wrote essays. 445 of them responded to a fear survey with twelve questions. Results are in a Trend Report: Teens Overcoming Fear and a YouTube video summary. Scroll down that page to find links to 14 essays on fear of public speaking or performing.

Ten of the survey questions were yes/no ones about specific situations. The eleventh asked what area of life stresses you out more -  home (35.3%) or school (64.7%)? The twelfth question asked whit is you greatest fear right now, and was open response (fill in the blank). Detailed results are in a downloadable Acrobat file.

A bar chart shows their results for the yes-no survey questions about ten fear situations. (Click on it to see a larger, clearer version). The five top situations were:

Poor academic performance or not getting good grades (75.5%)

The future or life after graduation (66.3%)

Money (56.4%)

Having to audition or try out in order to be a part of something (53.9%)

Talking to teachers about personal problems (53.7%)

About 3 out of 4 teens feared poor academic performance, and 2 out of 3 feared the future. Slightly over half feared performance situations like auditions or try outs (which might include public speaking). These are up-to-date results and thus are very interesting. But, we need to keep in mind that they are not from a randomly selected sample and thus may not represent all teens.

Last June I blogged about What Social Situations Scare American Adolescents, and What Are Their Top 20 Fears? That post discussed the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), which was a much larger survey (7682 responses) done about a decade ago, but using a random national sample. 

The bar chart shown above lists the top 20 fears based both on their 14 social situations and 6 screening questions. Note that the percentages are lower than in the Stage of Life survey. For example, in the NCS-A 20.3% feared talking to authority, while in the Stage of Life survey talking about personal problems to teachers (53.7%) or parents (51%) were feared by over twice as many teens. In the NCS-A 19.8% feared taking an importan exam, while in the Stage of Life survey 33.7% feared test taking.

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