Social media and poverty can increase loneliness in young people - making them feel awkward and anxious, new research has found.
Young people became researchers as part of a new study by Manchester Metropolitan University and youth charity 42nd Street.
The findings reveal a mixture of factors can influence youth loneliness, including if the young person feels isolated or different - particularly for LGBT youth; pressures from social media; a break-up in the family or the difficult transition from childhood to becoming a teenager. The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness of the health impact of loneliness since 2014.
Theresa May praises Post for fight on lonely - as new minister admits there is no ‘quick fix’ The project, called Loneliness Connects Us, saw 14 young researchers between the ages of 14 and 25 receive special training to talk to other young people from diverse backgrounds about the different experiences of loneliness.
It was funded by the Co-op Foundation, as part of Belong, its UK-wide programme to help young people beat loneliness through co-operative action.
Dr James Duggan, Research Fellow in the School of Childhood, Youth and Education Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “There are so many definitions, interpretations and understandings of loneliness. It is subjective and something that is perceived and felt, rather than simply a description or the experience of being alone. We wanted to establish a clearer picture.”
The researchers also investigated the barriers and limitations of asking for help around experiences of loneliness and mental health, and found that some young people resist simple solutions such as talking to someone due to the stigma involved.
The 42nd Street co-researchers said: “We know from our own experiences and those of our friends and family that youth loneliness is a really important but far from understood issue - we knew that it was a complex issue, with a whole host of causes and even wider implications on young people’s lives. “We were given the unique opportunity to train as researchers, work creatively with artists to develop an immersive theatre piece and then tour across the UK to explore the different experiences and understanding of youth loneliness with young people from different communities in the UK.”