Context. The young associations offer us one of the best opportunities to study the properties of young stellar and substellar objects and to directly image planets thanks to their proximity (<200 pc) and age (≈5-150 Myr). However, many previous works have been limited to identifying the brighter, more active members (≈1 M⊙) owing to photometric survey sensitivities limiting the detections of lower mass objects. Aims. We search the field of view of 542 previously identified members of the young associations to identify wide or extremely wide (1000-100 000 au in physical separation) companions. Methods. We combined 2MASS near-infrared photometry (J, H, K) with proper motion values (from UCAC4, PPMXL, NOMAD) to identify companions in the field of view of known members. We collated further photometry and spectroscopy from the literature and conducted our own high-resolution spectroscopic observations for a subsample of candidate members. This complementary information allowed us to assess the efficiency of our method. Results. We identified 84 targets (45: 0.2-1.3 M⊙, 17: 0.08-0.2 M⊙, 22: <0.08 M⊙) in our analysis, ten of which have been identified from spectroscopic analysis in previous young association works. For 33 of these 84, we were able to further assess their membership using a variety of properties (X-ray emission, UV excess, Hα, lithium and K I equivalent widths, radial velocities, and CaH indices). We derive a success rate of 76-88% for this technique based on the consistency of these properties. Conclusions. Once confirmed, the targets identified in this work would significantly improve our knowledge of the lower mass end of the young associations. Additionally, these targets would make an ideal new sample for the identification and study of planets around nearby young stars. Given the predicted substellar mass of the majority of these new candidate members and their proximity, high-contrast imaging techniques would facilitate the search for new low-mass planets.