The UUntitled design team polled over 100 young Unitarian Universalists to see what they would want from a national online network for and by young UUs.
After compiling the thoughts and experiences of UU youth and emerging adults across the country, here’s what we’ve learned:
- The number one desire from the UUntitled network, is to make friends.
UU young people want to connect with others, especially others with similar interests.
- There is also a high value placed on doing social justice work and spiritual practices.
- The top three virtual spaces that UU young people find engaging and supportive are community hangout video calls, chat rooms, and discussion groups.
The next step is to name the network 🎉 The UUntitled design team is seeking submissions for a naming contest. What's your great idea for a new name 😎
Summary of Survey Results
Out of 117 total respondents, a majority (36) were 16-18yo, followed by 14-16yo and 20-24yo (tied at 27), 22 18-20yos responded and 5 people under 14yo.
Overall, the most common ways respondents participated in church is by belonging to a small, medium or large youth group (53%) and/or sometimes attending worship (56%). While true for middle schoolers and youth, emerging adults were more likely to either attend worship every week or not be involved in church at all.
Overall, the most ways respondents practice their faith outside church is civic engagement (65%) (a second favorite for youth and emerging adults), communing with earth (64%) (a favorite for middle schoolers and youth) and personal spiritual practices (63%) (a favorite for emerging adults). Linking with YAs for Climate Justice, UU The Vote, Love Resists, Side With Love Braver/Wiser and Worship Web could support the ways respondents are already practicing their faith outside church. There were lots of other ways respondents participated too.
For most folks (61%) this would be their first online YaYA community experience, although the older respondents were, the more likely they were to have participated in an online YaYA community before. This suggests a great potential for crafting a unique community ethos and a great need for clear orientation to the platform and culture.
62% of respondents thought community hangout/game video calls were engaging and supportive. 59% liked chatroom style communication and 56% liked formal discussion groups.
Middle schoolers and emerging adults were slightly more interested in formal discussion groups than youth. Youth and emerging adults wanted chat rooms and hangouts. Since youth find chatroom style communication the most engaging and supportive, that type of engagement should be prioritized in the first 90 day plan for the network.
Nearly ¾ of respondents said making friends was a top need in a virtual space, true across age groups. In addition, youth want to meet others with similar interests (52%) and do social justice (46%). Identity groups and learning new things ranked high for youth but worship, spiritual practice and creative projects were all the lowest on the list. The vast majority of middle schoolers (80%) want to do creative projects. Emerging adults want to prioritize spiritual practices (47%) and meet others with similar identities (37%).
Perhaps we create a middle school group within the network that focuses on creative projects and can focus the emerging adult group on spiritual practices for transitioning into adulthood.
For 14-18yo, some common words for creating great online spaces:
(Text: From all over, Getting to know each other personally, Spontaneous conversations, Small groups so everyone gets to speak, Connection, Accessibility, Casual, Regularity, Well organized, Discussion prompts, Feeling of being part of something bigger , Finding a way, Organic spin offs”
Now that you know what we know, the next step is to name the network 🎉 The UUntitled design team is seeking submissions for a naming contest. What's your great idea for a new name 😎