New research into loneliness developed by academics at a number of universities, including the University of Exeter, has revealed that 16 to 24 year olds experience the most loneliness compared to any other age group.
BBC Radio 4 conducted the survey and released the results which claims that 40% of 16 to 24 year olds often experience intense loneliness. More than 55,000 people over 16 completed the survey which is the largest to explore the issue of loneliness so far. 29% of 65 to 74 year olds and 27% of over 75’s reported high levels of loneliness, which was typically associated with older generations.
40% of 16 to 24 year olds often experience intense loneliness.
The study looked into how loneliness is experienced and gave valuable insights into when it strikes most, revealing that there are strong links between loneliness and responsibilities, employability, and discrimination. The study also found that those who feel high levels of loneliness tend to have more Facebook friends and that dating and pursuing romantic relationships is not helpful in overcoming these feelings. However, 41% of individuals believe that loneliness isn’t always a negative experience and is often productive and positive.
The study will be able to be useful for understanding and tackling feelings of loneliness, and will be essential for young people who are at the highest risk. The study looked into ways in which people overcome loneliness which have been compiled into what Professor Pamela Qualter of the University of Manchester has called “a whole toolkit of potential solutions that we can try”.
41% of individuals believe that loneliness isn’t always a negative experience and is often productive and positive.
BBC Radio 4 is working with Welcome Collection on All in the Mind, with a series exploring loneliness based on the results from this study. The episodes will discuss why 16 to 24 year olds are experiencing the highest levels of loneliness compared to other age groups, how social media and relationships impact loneliness, and how long term loneliness can lead to health problems and poor sleep. Additionally, there is a discussion on genetic factors associated with loneliness, as well as child bullying and personality.
These findings will hopefully be utilised across the country in schools and universities and will lead to further resources to combat loneliness amongst young people.