Parents of teenagers rate confidence and appearance over intelligence, survey finds

Young people and their parents believe that confidence and communication skills are more important than being naturally clever when it comes to achieving success in life, a survey of more than 1,600 young people and 600 parents has found.

The survey, carried out by YouGov for Sky Academy, found that 98 per cent of the parents and 95 per cent of the young people who were questioned believed that communication skills were important factors in achieving success in life.

Ninety-seven per cent of the parents and 90 per cent of the young people said they thought confidence was important, and 82 per cent and 65 per cent respectively said appearance was important.

But just 72 per cent of parents and 67 per cent of young people said it was important to be “naturally clever” in order to succeed in life.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of girls said their confidence was influenced by how attractive or unattractive they felt, compared with just 46 per cent of boys.

The findings also indicate that mothers and female guardians are more likely than fathers and male guardians to praise children. Seventy-eight per cent of the mothers and female guardians surveyed said they gave their child support or praise, compared with 66 per cent of male respondents.

The survey also found that more than a third (37 per cent) of the 14- to 17-year-olds who used social media said they were more confident on social media channels than in person, and 31 per cent were more honest on social media than in person about issues that worried them.

Sky Academy is a series of programmes run by the media company Sky aimed at building young people’s confidence through sport and creativity.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, the Olympic heptathlon champion and an ambassador for Sky Academy, said: “Nothing is more powerful than confidence. In my career it was my parents who first gave me the encouragement and confidence to overcome boundaries and achieve my goals. It was then about hard work and determination to build the skills I needed to succeed.”

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