Fastn and Media Trust have worked with young people to co-produce guidance on how the media can help support young people form and sustain healthy and dependable relationships.

Platforming platonic relationships and amplifying positive, relatable role models are among recommendations and facilitation of peer-to-peer discussions can help achieve this, according to young people.

The guidance, created in response to polling among 16-24-year-olds carried out by Fastn, and a roundtable the two charities held with young people and sector experts recommends media:

  1. Show both the ups and downs of relationships
  2. Platform platonic relationships
  3. Amplify positive and relatable relationship role models
  4. Celebrate differences and combat stereotypes in relationships
  5. Let young people tell their own stories
  6. Show relationships at different life stages

Recommendations for how journalists, producers and media outlets can achieve this include: consulting specialists, prioritising social listening, and facilitating peer-to-peer discussion.

Two-thirds of young people say that the media influences their peers’ expectations of relationships. Almost half of young people (42 per cent) say the portrayal of ‘perfect’ and unrealistic relationships in the media poses a significant challenge to them forming and sustaining their own healthy and dependable relationships. They also call for better diversity in the representation of relationships, and the need for more positive relationship role models.

Huma, from Bradford, who took part in the roundtable said: “Getting to a healthy and dependable place in your relationship takes a lot of time and you often don’t see that in how relationships are represented in the media.”

Felix, from East Midlands and who also took part in the roundtable said: “As part of the LGBTQ+ community, progressively seeing more and more characters and situations on screen that I could directly relate to, had a huge, positive impact in my own life and relationships.”

Catherine Hine, Fastn CEO said,

"How we experience relationships as children and young people is foundational not just to our mental and physical health, but also to our life outcomes. The media play a huge role in shaping how young people see relationships, so we hope through the implementation of the new media guidance more young people will have the chance to develop healthy, dependable relationships throughout their lives."

Andrew South, Media Trust's Head of Youth Programmes, said:

“At Media Trust, we believe in the power of the media to change lives.

“Our work with Fastn confirmed how much influence the media’s portrayal of relationships can have on young people, and the potential impact the media can have in helping young people form and sustain healthy and dependable relationships. From increased and more authentic inclusion to relationship role models that young people can relate to, we’ve consulted with young people on what they’d like to see from the media and how it might be able to achieve it.

"We hope that with support from journalists, producers, and outlets on this work, that we can build a safer and more supportive future for all young people and their approach to and understanding of relationships.”

Fastn and Media Trust are calling for journalists, producers and social media platforms to use this guidance as a springboard to start reflecting on and taking action to best support young people in forming and sustaining healthy and dependable relationships.

Access the guidance in full and learn what you can do to support better futures for young people.



Notes to Editors

For media enquiries, please email Matt Horwood, Head of Marketing and Communications at Media Trust, on [email protected]

About Media Trust

At Media Trust, we believe it’s by giving everyone a voice that we’ll get to a more equal society. That’s why we’re proud to be working with thousands of charities to strengthen their storytelling, advocacy, and campaigning, press engagement and social media.

We do this through media, comms and digital skills training delivered in partnership with our media and creative industry partners and by matching media industry volunteers with charities looking for comms support – because we know non-profit work can’t just be done by non-profits.

At the same time, our youth programmes are giving thousands of young people the creative digital media skills, access and mentoring to break into the media because we know talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. 

In this way, we believe we're doing our bit to level the playing field for media representation; thereby contributing to Britain’s levelling up agenda while also helping the media sector to be more responsible, representative, and connected.

About Fastn

At Fastn we are committed to helping society form, value and aim for family relationships which are healthy and dependable.