Twitter and Facebook or taps and toilets?

Our latest survey shows young people would choose the internet and comfy beds over water and working toilets if they were camping somewhere remote, but they still want to change lives around the world.

5 Jan 2016

Imagine yourself camping in the depths of the jungle, somewhere desolate, isolated and remote. What would you miss the most?

Our new survey shows that, for young people in the UK, not being able to get online would be a bigger sacrifice than going without home cooked meals, showers or even their family.

34% of young people said the internet would top their list of things they’d find it hard to be without, while fewer than one in four boys, 22%, said they’d miss having a shower.

Meanwhile, nearly half of all 15 to 16-year-olds, 48%, would miss their own bed – the most popular response in their age group.

Bear Grylls at the launch of A Million Hands
Chief Scout Bear Grylls at the launch of A Million Hands.

Despite this, 86% of the young people we surveyed, aged between 12 and 24, are worried about the lack of access to clean water and toilets people face around the world.

And an incredible 65,000 young people have pledged to take action on the issue this year, as part of our partnership with The Scout Association, A Million Hands.

Changing lives for the better

Our survey also revealed that:

  • Girls are twice as likely as boys to miss the humble toilet (39% vs. 20%).
  • The loo becomes more important with age, with older teens aged 17 to 18 twice as likely than those aged 12 to 14 to long for a decent loo (40% vs. 21%).
  • Scouts are less tied to technology than non-Scouts, with half as many saying they would miss the internet (17% vs. 34%), their mobile phones (8% vs. 17%) and TV (3% vs. 7%)
  • Scouts are also leading the way when it comes to thinking about taps and toilets across the globe, with 91% saying they’re concerned about lack of access in the world's poorest communities and 83% saying they would give up their time to take action to improve the situation.

“When clean water and working toilets are easily found in the UK, I’m not surprised young people might think they would miss Twitter and naps over toilets and taps,” says Becky Alexander, a young person in Scouting who is leading A Million Hands.

“But that doesn’t mean we’re not passionate about the injustice of other young people having to treat access to clean water as a privilege rather than a right.

“The Scout Association and WaterAid have committed to supporting young people to take action that changes the lives of others for the better.”

Enlisting a million Scouts: what the campaign hopes to achieve >

About the survey

Our survey was carried out by ComRes. They interviewed 1,001 young people in the UK aged between 12 and 24 online between 7 and 19 August 2015. The data was weighted to be nationally representative of all young people in the UK aged between 12 and 24 by age, gender and region.

ComRes also interviewed 1,005 Scout members in the UK aged between 12 and 24 online between 7 and 21 August 2015.

ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. To view the full sets of data, please visit