Connect with Others to Overcome Loneliness

For decades, researchers stated that older people experience loneliness significantly more than other age groups.

Today, new research shows that the 16-24-year-old population is the loneliest age group in society, according to a BBC radio 4 global study.

Loneliness in older people is primarily attributed to several life-changing factors.  Many seniors experience changes such as the absence of a spouse, higher functional limitations, and lower income, in some situations.

However, in a recent BBC radio 4 study, teens and adolescents say they feel lonely and sad because they have no one to connect with.

This survey was conducted by academics at the University of Manchester, Brunel University London, and the University of Exeter where 55,000 people age 16 and older were asked about their attitude toward loneliness.  In conclusion, the study gathered sufficient information to point to the 16 to 24-year individuals as being the loneliest age group in society today.

Gerine Lodder, author and loneliness researcher, told an audience at a TedX Talk event that the feeling of lacking something in our social life is a feeling that everyone has experienced. But there are two peaks of loneliness in life: one in the elderly and the other in the adolescents, between 12-25.

"Loneliness, then, is a signal from the body telling us that we need to connect with others.  Humans," Ms. Lodder said, "are built to be with others."

In studies completed by John M. Ernst and John T. Cacioppo, we learned that loneliness is associated with depression, hostility, pessimism, social withdrawal, alienation, shyness, and low positive affect.  (

The quality of social relationships such as social activities, number of friends, contact frequency, living arrangement, and time spent alone are all indicators of loneliness among adolescents, the study revealed.  Additional indicators such as failure, rejection, guilt, loss, and fear are risk factors associated with loneliness.

Consequently, loneliness is considered a threat to mental health, physical health, and academic performance.  For this reason, paying attention to the social health of teens is paramount.

Denise Blackwood

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