Young people are struggling to balance real and digital relations (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
People under the age of 24 – typically referred to as ‘Generation Z’ – are now the loneliest generation, according to new research.
Campaigners have called for more to be done to address the impact the pandemic and cost of living crisis has had on young people.
New data has shown that three times as many 16-24 year olds – 19% – often or always feel lonely compared to 65-74 year olds – at 6%.
The research, released by Eden Project Communities, also revealed that young people and those living in cities are hit hardest by isolation, contrary to stereotypes that older people suffer the most.
Only 14% of 16-24 year olds surveyed said they had never felt lonely.
Steve Barnabis, based in London, is determined to change the narrative surrounding Gen Z and loneliness.
He lost his 16-year-old cousin to knife crime in 2004 and, as a result, set up charity Project Zero.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘We are seeing a wide range of issues in all of the age groups that we work with.
Steve Barnabis is working to bring together young people in real life connections (Picture: Project Zero)
‘With the younger kids, there is definitely an increase in anxieties and lack of confidence and self-esteem.
‘A lot of issues with motivation too, especially for those that were doing exams during Covid. They think things like “what’s the point of going to school and doing exams for so many years.”
‘The pandemic was a real knock for a lot of young people.’
An ever-changing digital era has seen young people rely on digital connections instead of in-person experiences.
Project Zero hosts a community hub with a cafe, radio station and event hall – to let young people enjoy real life activities rather than stay home.
The community-based project also delivers youth engagement projects to promote social inclusion and reduce offending and anti-social behaviour.
Steve added: ‘There are phones and technology these kids have to keep in touch with each other but in a way, it’s harder for young people to connect with each other.
‘After Covid many are struggling to get out and socialise again. There was a period of time when kids were more reliant on phones and urged to rely on technology – so moving away from that mindset will be hard.’
The recent data by Eden Communities on loneliness explored demographic profile of regions across England and Wales from the recent 2021 census.
It confirmed that the highest proportion of young people live in city centres, where 17% of people report chronic feelings of loneliness.
Tracey Robbins, practitioner at the Eden Project and a recognised expert on loneliness, said: ‘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.
‘Pandemic social restrictions left a legacy leading to reduced confidence in connecting with others.
‘Now rising living costs are limiting social opportunities.
‘The good news is that feeling part of a community can help, so that’s brilliant motivation for everyone to reach out and start connecting.’
Tracey and Eden Project Communities have urged communities to work together to reduce isolation.
You could host a #BigLunch or visit the organisation’s website for tips on how you can make a difference to the loneliness epidemic.
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