Young people are the loneliest age group but smartphones aren't to blame
Youth is a period most often associated with great promise, many possibilities, and an overall sense of freedom. But, youth can also be a time in life when many of us feel very lonely.
A new major survey of over 55,000 people conducted by the BBC found that the loneliest among us are not the old, as you might imagine, but those aged between 16 and 24.
40 percent of the 16-24 year olds surveyed reported that they often, or very often, feel lonely. The same goes for 27 percent of those over the age of 75.
Mental health writer Matt Haig pointed out that loneliness is not so much about being alone. Loneliness is a subjective experience an individual has around the social relationships in their lives.
Social media has been found to have an impact on the mental health on young people especially, causing or intensifying feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. But, according to findings in the survey reported by the BBC, it's not just Gen Z that's coping with loneliness in their youth. The study found that people of all generations report feeling lonely at this stage in life.
When asked at which point in their life they’d felt the most lonely, the most common answer people of all generations gave was during young adulthood. This suggests even people who had little to no screen time or social media in their youth still retrospectively view the period as a lonely.
The real explanation as to why loneliness is associated with youth might be factors around youth itself. The survey found that young people suffer more from feelings of loneliness because they are ill-equipped to cope with them, just as they don't have the experience to know that the feelings will pass.
While loneliness itself is not a mental health problem, feeling lonely is often connected to mental health struggles in young people, Matt Blow of the charity Young Minds told HuffPost UK.
"Young people who are struggling with their mental health also often feel isolated or alone," said Blow.
Blow also argues that while social media might not be the root of young people's troubles with loneliness, having lots of online connections doesn't exactly help, either.
“Living much of your life on social media [...] means that you can be extremely well connected, but still feel lonely, especially if you can’t relate to the apparently ‘perfect’ lives that other people are presenting," Blow continued.
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October 1, 2018 at 11:01AM