NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the prevailing narrative that Gen Z are acting reckless amid the pandemic, new data from a Harris Poll survey shows many young Americans feel a social responsibility to help the country get over the coronavirus. Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) Gen Z ages 16-23 say they are very strictly following mask-wearing guidelines and are actively urging others to do the same, and (83%) say they are following safety precautions to save their future. In fact, as reports of COVID-19 cases among college students are growing on university campuses as schools reopen, (80%) of Gen Z say they wish more people their age followed the recommendations.
This survey, which was provided to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was conducted from August 10 to 12, 2020 among 1,048 U.S. teens and adults ages 16-23. It is a continuation of Harris' commitment to providing critical public opinion polling on COVID-19 as a public health service.
This new survey finds younger Americans are empathic and altruistic –– even as they express profound anxiety over missing out on life and an uncertain future. When asked 'how much stress does each of these issues concern you?', Gen Z reported being most stressed out about the health of their family members and their friends (81%) and the well-being of the country as a whole (75%); rather than their own needs, such as missing key milestones like graduation or prom (67%) or traveling (46%).
"We've dramatically underestimated this generation's anxiety and resolve," says Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema, "COVID-19 has had outsized impact on their lives right at a moment of critical decision making, so there's a heightened urgency to fight the pandemic to control their destiny."
Indeed the survey finds young people feel increasing anxiety to get back to normal as major life decisions are being put on hold: (75%) say being in limbo and facing uncertainty about the future is causing them a significant amount of stress, (68%) are worried about their chances at finding a job/advancing their career and (63%) are stressed about falling behind in school.
The majority of 16-23 year old Americans would be willing to make sacrifices now and for the short-term if it meant they could socialize in-person sooner, such as wearing a mask indoors for all social interactions (86%), taking online courses instead of in-person (85%) and staying home as much as possible, only leaving for essentials (82%).
But skepticism has created barriers: Nearly four in ten (38%) question whether precautions will keep them safe and, instead, Gen Z are looking to their peers: Nine out of ten young Americans (91%) would be more likely to wear a mask to a social gathering if everyone else was too and (83%) agree "My generation has the power to help stop the spread, it's up to us." But there is progress to be made in order to move needle; nearly half (48%) say the reason they don't follow safety precautions is because they forget and (36%) say they don't need to because they are healthy.
"For Gen Z, peer reinforcement is critical to credibility," says Tawny Saez, Harris Poll Senior Director and Cultural Anthropologist, "we must frame COVID-19 for them as a social issue worth being an activist in, as in other equality efforts."
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll and provided to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from August 10 to 12, 2020 among 1,048 U.S. teens and adults ages 16-23, The Harris Poll utilized its Generation On Demand survey, an omnibus focused on a particular age range – "Gen Z" – to better understand trends among this generation's feelings and behaviors towards COVID-19.
This survey represents a continuation of Harris' commitment to providing the latest in public opinion polling on the Coronavirus outbreak as a service to public health and the American public at-large.
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About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion and social sentiment since 1963. Harris is a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times, working with clients in building corporate reputation, brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. Learn more by visiting www.harrispoll.com and follow Harris Poll on Twitter and LinkedIn.
SOURCE The Harris Poll