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Study says Gen Z have become loneliest generation

Despite assumptions that older generations are lonely, new research suggests young people struggle the most with feelings of isolation. Balancing between real and digital life has become increasingly tougher too, the study says.

New research suggests that Generation Z are now the ‘loneliest generation’.

It’s believed that the pandemic, lockdowns, an emphasis on digital life, and rising costs of living are having a detrimental effect on the mental wellbeing of young people. New data shows that three times as many Gen Zers suffer with mental health issues compared to 65-74 year olds.

19% of young participants said they often or always feel lonely.

The research was conducted by Eden Project Communities. The detrimental impact of city living on mental health was emphasised especially, with isolation felt hardest by those in dense urban areas.

Loneliness was explored across regions of England and Wales using the 2021 census data.

Tracey Robbins, practitioner at the Eden Project, said that ‘the extent of loneliness in younger adults can be linked to social media, frequent life changes and transition, or moving into cities where people often live alone or in a room in a shared house’.

It makes sense that younger people are feeling the stress of early adulthood, given that many are entering job markets and rented accommodation for the first time. With two years of infrequent isolation and lockdowns, social development and networking opportunities have been stifled, no doubt impacting our sense of balance socially and mentally.

All this is on top of even higher prices for food, rent, bills, and everything in between, making independent living even less viable than it was before the pandemic began. Eden Project Communities notes that social media is blurring our real and digital lives too, compounding feelings of loneliness further.

So, what can young people do?

While costs of living and financial fortune is largely out of our individual control, it is worth considering using social media and online spaces to connect to others in real terms rather than masking uncomfortable feelings.

Finding networking groups, either via Reddit or another third-party service like MeetUp are a great way to find genuine, in person connection. This is especially useful if you’ve just moved to a large city on your own.

Conversely, it could be worth reducing your overall screen time and social media use, especially if Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter are go-to platforms. These often have detrimental effects on our self esteem and mental health if used too often or mindlessly. You may find your overall happiness improves by simply cutting back.

If you need more help or access to information, check out the NHS’ guide on mental health services here.

 

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