Loneliness online: what causes it and ways to feel better

Whether it’s their family, friends or teachers, children are almost always surrounded by people – so the possibility of them feeling lonely doesn’t naturally occur to us. It came as a troubling surprise, then, when the UK’s Office for National Statistics collected data showing that more than one out of ten 10–15-year-olds frequently feels lonely. Young people often attempt to ease this sadness by doing something enjoyable on their phone, tablet or games console – but on occasion, the online world is what’s actually causing them to feel lonely. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (starting 9th May), our online safety guide presents young people’s own tips on how digital tech can help to beat the loneliness blues.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, with more people experiencing it to an even more severe degree. This increased loneliness has contributed to higher levels of distress, resulting from people’s heightened feelings of isolation and diminished ability to connect with others. The online world can help us feel more connected to people – but it can also leave us feeling even more cut off. For this week’s special #WakeUpWednesday guide, NOS canvassed the opinions of a group of young people, who told them what makes them feel lonely online … and how they use their digital devices to lift their spirits. Check out their suggestions in today’s guide!