Nearly 2,000 young people in Estonia contributed to the development of the new EU Youth Strategy, highlighting the need for the community to focus more on equal treatment, the consequences of actions on the internet and the mental health of youth.
According to the EU Youth Strategy’s survey, the Estonian youth have experienced unequal treatment mostly due their age, looks, gender and socio-economic situation. Out of the respondents, 81% find that inequality is an essential topic for the Estonian society and more than half of respondents find that inequality is yet not sufficiently addressed.
According to the respondents, the youth living in urban and rural areas do not have equal opportunities. The youth believe that infrastructure investments and the development of recreational activities in rural areas should reduce inequality.
The survey also addressed the youth’s information consumption and awareness of dangers related to the information society. Nearly a half of respondents (47%) have experienced negative attitudes towards them on the internet, including in the social media. The youth argued that reducing negative behaviour calls for more preventive work and making people think about the consequences of their actions on the web.
The youth’s main information channel is social media (89%), whereas newspapers and news portals are considered the most reliable channels – 33% and 32%, respectively. The youth participating in the survey find the main factors behind the reliability of information are the verifiability of its accuracy and references to sources. The youth believe that it would be easier for them to find reliable information if schools would focus more on critical thinking.
Stress and tension in daily life
The majority (78%) of respondents have experienced stress and tension in daily life. To mitigate stress and tension, the youth engage in their favourite activities and hobbies but many of them are not very good at managing their stress. The lack of skills required to take care of their mental health could put youth at a disadvantage in the society. Hence, the youth find that further measures should be taken to help them take care of their mental health.
The Estonian youth aged 13-30 were consulted on a total of seven topics: equal opportunities, the information society, mental health, future work and skills, the European Union, living and natural environment and youth involvement.
The period of the current EU Youth Strategy expires in 2018 and the European Commission is preparing a new strategy, consulting young people in all EU member states. In Estonia, consultations were led by the Estonian National Youth Council (ENYC) that conducted an online survey, group chats and discussions across the country.
Cover: An Estonian girl in the countryside (the image is illustrative/photo by Kajar Kattai). The full report is available in Estonian.