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School, drinking, sex and depression - the average life of your typical Irish teenager

Family and health the most important to teens while religion and politics are largely ignored.

Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

A NEW REPORT launched today has revealed how the average Irish teenager is entering adulthood.

The findings are the first results from interviews with just over 6,000 17/18-year-olds who have been participating in the study since 2007, when they were 9 years old.

The report by the ESRI has showed while most 17 to 18-year-olds are satisfied with their lives, there are still a number of issues facing the typical Irish teen.

Drug use, alcohol consumption and their sex lives were also explored.

The study found:

  • 98% of teens were in some form of education, work or training.
  • The average teenager earns €72 a week from a part-time job.
  • One in five are overweight with girls more likely to struggle.
  • One in ten 17/18-year-olds reported that they had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or both by a medical professional.
  • Just under 90% said they had drank alcohol with 40% drinking 2-4 times per month.
  • 40% reported that they had had oral sex, while 33% said they had had sexual intercourse.
  • 56% said they always used a condom, although 11% said they never used one.
  • 8% said they smoked every day.
  • Just under 30% had used cannabis in their lives.

The new report also found that the vast majority of young people are happy with their lives. But the levels dips when children from a lower socio-economic background were surveyed.

While most teenagers surveyed said they are happy with their lives, young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds reported being less satisfied.

But one aspect of the study which stayed relatively constant for those from all backgrounds was that family and health were the most important things in life.

Politics and religion scored at the bottom of the pile.

James Williams, research professor at the ESRI, said:

Drinking alcohol or smoking at an early age is associated with more frequent and higher levels of consumption by the age of 17/18, which points to clear ways we can help teenagers to make healthier choices.

Dail returns Minister for Children Katherine Zappone. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said the report raises concerns about the effects of economic inequality on people’s lives.

She said: “The key findings however also raise some areas of concern, for example, children from families who are better off educationally or financially continue tend to fare better than those who are less well-off across a range of outcomes.”

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