The purpose of the Family Foundation project is to understand the role of family, community, and faith in helping youth survive and thrive in today’s world.
Begun in 2016, this project has recruited hundreds of families and provided important insights into the experiences of youth today. In an effort to further understand the experiences of youth around the United States, we are currently recruiting families from various locations to participate.
The results from the Family Foundations project will help parents, policymakers, community, civic, and religious leaders to strengthen youth in a rapidly changing world.
Justin Dyer, Ph.D.
Toggle ItemWhat are some of the most relevant research questions?What are the unique challenges of youth today?
At what point are youth most likely to drop off in their faith?
What are the risk factors for youth dropping off in their faith?
What are protective factors? What parts of family life most influence how youth faith develops?
How do parents, siblings, grandparents, and peers influence faith development?
How does faith develop differently for boys and girls?
How does faith impact mental health, sexual activity, risky behaviors, and school achievement?
What things at church matter most to youth in their faith development?
Toggle ItemHow have you recruited families and where do you recruit them from?In this phase of the project we are recruiting new participants from California, as well as others who have previously participated in Utah and Arizona. To recruit families, we send them an email and/or letter and call them. Each time they participate in a survey we give the parent and the child an Amazon gift code.
Toggle ItemWhat contact do the families have with BYU researchers and students?The only contact the families have is over the phone and via email and/or letter.
Toggle ItemWhat will be done with the data?Results from data analysis will be used to write research reports, describing the strengths and challenges of today’s teens.
Toggle ItemWhat is expected of families?A child between the ages of 15 and 18 and one of their parents will fill out a 35-45-minute online survey. This survey will be conducted every other year for 10 years. Individuals do not have to participate in any surveys. Participants’ answers will be entirely anonymous; their names will never be associated with their answers. Participants are welcome to withdraw at any time.
Toggle ItemGiven this study is done by professors from a religiously affiliated university are you trying to use this as an opportunity to preach or proselytize to participants?Emphatically “no.” This project is simply meant to help us understand youth development.
Toggle ItemWhat kinds of questions are asked in the survey?
Here is a list of topics the survey covers for both parents and children:
- Family Background Characteristics
- Parent-Child Relationship
- Child Behavioral Problems
- Parent and Child Depression/Anxiety
- Substance Use
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Political Views
- Family Religious Practices
- Religious Affiliation
- Private and Public Religious Practices
Toggle ItemWho is Qualtrics?Qualtrics is a Utah based company with headquarters in Provo, Utah and Seattle, Washington. Qualtrics software allows individuals and organizations to collect and analyze data online. Many Universities and researchers use Qualtrics to administer surveys, collect data, perform statistical analysis, and interpret findings.
There are currently three waves of data collection in the Family Foundations of Youth Development project. At each wave of data collection those who participated previously were invited to participate again and new participants were recruited. Surveys at each wave took between 35 and 55 minutes to complete. Given Latter-day Saints are underrepresented in the research literature, they were oversampled.
The first wave of data was collected in the summer of 2016. This first wave consisted youth in Utah and one of their parents. To obtain a random sample, the national research company InfoUSA (now called “Data Axel”) was utilized. This company collects information from publicly available sources to identify U.S. households and their characteristics. Their database contains over 80 million households and their information is regularly updated. This company is not associated with Brigham Young University or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In Wave 1, the contact information for 10,000 households with children between the ages of 12 and 14 in Utah were randomly selected from InfoUSA’s database. Recruitment letters were sent to these 10,000 potential participants and they were also contacted by phone. Letters contained a unique code which they used on the Foundations Website to complete the survey. Although InfoUSA’s information regarding families was mostly reliable, we found it inaccurate regarding household composition (i.e., no child between the ages of 12 and 14) in at least 10% of the cases. However, of those households that were eligible, just over 60% participated. Youth were given $20 in Amazon.com credit to complete the survey and parents were given $30 in Amazon.com credit.
Throughout the three waves of data collection, we had several participants ask if their other family or friends could participate. In each instance, the answer was ‘no.’ Although this would have simplified recruiting, to obtain a random a sample, households could only participate if they had been randomly selected through the InfoUSA database. Thus, we reduced the bias inherent in “snowball” sampling. However, it is useful to be able to conduct within household analyses; that is, examine how children in the same household may be affected differently by parenting. Thus, if a household was randomly selected, any youth who met the age criteria could participate. In analyses, appropriate statistical methods for handling households with multiple participants were employed.
In total, 638 families participated at Wave 1. Youth ages ranged from 11 to 15 (some youth just under 12 or just over 15 took the survey). Regarding religion, 86.2% of the youth identified as Latter-day Saint, 4.3% as Catholic, 3.3% as Atheist/Agnostic, and 6.2% identified as another religion. Regarding income, 27.0% of households made $75,000 or less, another 22.8% made between $75,000 and $100,000, and 50.2% of households made more than $100,000. Racially, 88.1% of youth identified as White, 5.8% identified as Hispanic, 3.7% identified as a combination of races, and the rest identified as other races (e.g., Black, Asian, etc.).
The second wave of data collection occurred in 2018. Those who had been interviewed at the first wave were recruited to participate again in the second wave. Additional participants were recruited from Utah to increase the diversity within the Utah sample. Further, a sample was recruited from Arizona. The state of Arizona was selected given it is similar to Utah in several respects, though it has a substantially lower proportion of Latter-day Saints. New families in the sample were again recruited using the InfoUSA national database. The selection criterion for households was those having a child between the ages of 12 and 16. The age at this wave was increased from the first wave to be comparable to Wave 1 participants from Utah. The youth were compensated $30 and the parents were compensated $40 in Amazon.com credit. Over 80% of those who participated in Wave 1 participated again at Wave 2. In Utah, an additional 187 families were recruited. In Arizona, 689 families participated. The total sample at Wave 2 was 1,397.
The sample at Wave 2 became more diverse: 62.9% Latter-day Saint, 8.6% Catholic, 9.3% Protestant, 8.4% believing in God but part of no religion, 7.4% Atheist/Agnostic, and 3.4% of other religions. The sample remained mostly the same racially and regarding income. 28.4% made less than $75,000, another 22.4% made between $75,000 and $100,000 and the rest made over $100,000. Regarding race, Whites were 81.3%, with 7.12 Hispanic, 7% identifying as a combination of races, 1.8% Black, 1.7% Asian American, with 1.2% identifying as other races.
Wave 3 was conducted in the Summer of 2020, just as COVID-19 “lockdowns” began. This afforded an important opportunity to examine how the pandemic influenced individuals. Those who had been in either of the previous two waves were recruited to participate again and an additional sample from Southern California was recruited. The Southern Californian sample was recruited using two methods. The first was using the InfoUSA database—mailing and calling families to recruit them to participate. However, in doing so there were not sufficient Latter-day Saints recruited into the sample. To recruit additional Latter-day Saints in California, the Brigham Young University Alumni database was used. Drawn randomly from this database, 1,000 emails were sent to recruit families. Using this method we achieved a sufficient number of Latter-day Saints in Southern California. 36.6% of Latter-day Saints in Southern California were recruited through the InfoUSA database (n=49) and 63.4% through the alumni database (n=85). In all statistical analyses using the Southern California sample, a variable indicating whether the sample came from InfoUSA or the alumni database is included to control for potential bias.
In Wave 3, both parent and child received a $30 Amazon.com gift code for participating. In all, 552 families from California participated. In total, 1,782 families participated in Wave 3. Of youth who participated in Wave 2, 88.1% participated at Wave 3. Of youth who participated in Wave 1, 84.1% participated at Wave 3.
In Wave 3, 52.2% identified at Latter-day Saint, 10.6% as Protestant, 9.9% as Catholic, 12.5% as Atheist/Agnostic, 11.2% as no religion but believes in God, and 3.7% of other religions. Regarding race, 76.3% were White, 8.6% Hispanic, 2.5% Black, 2.0% Asian American, 9.4% a combination of races, and 1.3% of other races. For income, 24.1% made less than $75,000, 18.8% made between $75,000 and $100,000, and 57.0% made over $100,000.