It’s here!

The first report from the 2018 Youth Voices survey rolled out a week or so ago. Called “Good Friends…Online and in Person,” it outlines four friendsItasca area kids’ perceptions of how their online and real-life friendships overlap and are separate – and how these affect their lives. (It also provides ways adults can coach kids about healthy friendships; read on to learn more about that too.)

Folks who attended any of the community presentations called “It’s complicated…Social Media and Mental Health” got the first peek.

In case you couldn’t make those events, check out the full report here.

So – what did youth say?

Perhaps not surprisingly, they said peer relationships are powerful. More importantly – positive peer relationships are powerful, making a noticeable difference in kids’ lives.

Itasca area youth who report having stronger relationships with their friends are:

  • 6 times more likely to have a positive view of themselves
  • 5 times more likely to feel like they belong in the school
  • 5 times more likely to feel like they belong to the community
  • 1 time more likely to have a positive view for their future
  • 9 times more likely to work toward achievable goals


Search Institute – which conducted the Youth Voices survey – has identified five key elements of relationships that support young people to be their best, based on decades of researching the topic: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power and Expand Possibilities.

These elements are strongly present in the majority of Itasca area youth’s relationships with their friends.




Yet Itasca area young people do not experience these elements equally. Young people experiencing financial strain are less likely to experience the five elements in their interactions with their peers.


You can build developmental relationships

As we adults who work with Itasca area youth coach them through this stage of their lives, we can use the five elements.

Here’s what that could look like around kids’ friendships.

Action Ideas:

  • Express Care – Show interest in a young person’s friends – especially their online friends. Ask them about their lives and interests.
  • Challenge Growth – Talk to the young person in your life about positive, healthy relationships.
  • Provide Support – Help connect young people who might have a shared interest to each other. Provide coaching as young people work to develop face to face friendships.
  • Share Power – Work together to set boundaries for social media use. Recognize young people as experts in social media use and tap into their expertise when you need it.
  • Expand Possibilities – Use social media to connect young people to new ideas and new possibilities and follow up those experiences with a face to face conversation about what they’ve learned.

Learn more about the Youth Voices Survey and find tips on supporting strong peer relationships here.