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.

The guidance was 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.

Two-thirds of young people said that the media influences their peers’ expectations of relationships. And almost half of young people (42 per cent) said 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.

“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.” Huma, Bradford - roundtable participant

The young people also called for better diversity in the representation of relationships, and the need for more positive relationship role models.

The guidance that came out of the research recommends six actions the media can take:

  1. Show relationships' ups and downs
  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.

The guidance also describes what this will look like in practice. Recommendations for how journalists, producers and media outlets can achieve the six actions include:

  • consulting specialists
  • facilitating peer-to-peer discussion
  • talking to more young people.

Download the full guidance document free of charge.