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Young people are the loneliest age group, new study finds

  • 16-24 year olds more lonely than any other age group.
  • Link between feeling lonely and having more 'online only' Facebook friends.
  • Survey led by University of Manchester and BBC Radio 4

Young people experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group, a new survey has found.

The nationwide survey, led by the University of Manchester and BBC Radio 4 has found that 40% of people aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often - the highest out of any age group.

The study found that 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of over 75s reported feelings of loneliness.

But it also fond that such feelings may be due more to perception rather than the amount of contact they have with other people. Young people who report being lonely tend to have more 'online only' Facebook friends, so it may be that while being digitally more connected than ever before, it is the lack of face-to-face contact that is contributing to young people feeling lonely.

More than 55,ooo people took part in the BBC Loneliness Survey which also found that only a third of people thought that being lonely meant being physically on your own. Other findings made were 41% of people thought that loneliness could be a positive experience and that dating was the least helpful solution to loneliness suggested by others. 

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The University of Manchester's Professor of Psychology Pamela Qualter, who led the study, said:

"For me, the most interesting findings relate to the stigma of loneliness and the varied solutions people had to overcome loneliness. Those findings suggest that we need to be kinder to ourselves when we feel disconnected from others"

BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind, to be broadcast on tonight at 8pm, will delve further into the results of the survey. Then, from tomorrow, a new series titled The Anatomy of Loneliness will break down the research into three programmes, and a series of podcasts titled How You Can Feel Less Lonely will feature Professor Pamela Qualter discussing the top solutions to loneliness which emerged from the survey.

Claudia Hammond, the presenter of All in the Mind said: "This research shows we need to take loneliness seriously in all age groups. We know that most loneliness is temporary, but we need to find ways to prevent it from becoming chronic."

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