Children feel lonely and this is not just a remnant of the pandemic.
Given that it is not easy to determine whether a child experiences loneliness as a feeling or a state, experts recommend that parents be close to their children by spending time with them.
This helps them to feel better, to externalize their feelings, yes they feel safe.
The pandemic is not solely responsible for children’s loneliness
The years of the pandemic brought ups and downs in everyone’s life, dramatically increasing loneliness in children and adults. However, studies show that even before the advent of Covid, young people reported feeling lonelier than older generations.
In particular, a 2019 survey of more than 2,000 UK adults found that:
- Almost nine in ten (88%) Britons aged 18 to 24 said they experience loneliness to some degree with a quarter (24%) suffering often and 7% saying they feel lonely all the time.
- 70% of those over 55 said they may be lonely to some extent, however, only 7% are often lonely and just 2% said they feel lonely all the time.
Likewise, survey results in 2018 showed that:
- 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of 65-74 year olds and 27% of over 75s said the same.
What is the role of social media?
The role of social media in increasing loneliness felt by young people is not fully understood as the evidence is not clear cut. In several cases they seem to work positively by being a way out for children and in others to have negative results due to the negative comments.
The relationship between loneliness and mental health
In a recent review of the scientific literature, loneliness was linked to future mental health problems up to 9 years later.
In particular, the social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of occurrence depression but also anxiety while the duration and not the intensity of loneliness was associated with symptoms of poor mental health.
Loneliness may affect the mental health of boys and girls differently. As it turns out, loneliness is more strongly associated with increased depressive symptoms in girls and with increased social anxiety in boys.
How to help your child not feel lonely
Spend time with him
Find time – even just a little – to spend every day with him. Listen to it, share simple everyday moments, hug it, look it in the eye. Tell him that he can count on you for anything that concerns him.
Help your child make healthy friendships
Talk to your child about the power of friendship and why friends should be fair and kind. Children feel less alone when they have friends and belong to groups.
Teach the child about solidarity and giving
Teach your child to be kind, to help his peers, to offer. Through giving people feel less alone.
With information from mentalhealth.org.uk, kidshealth.org