Loneliness: Does being online help or make it worse?

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Girlguiding survey has showed that girls have different opinions about the impact that being online can have on feelings of loneliness

Does going online make you feel more or less lonely?

That's what we want to know, after results from a survey by Girlguiding show that girls have different opinions about this.

The figures, revealed exclusively by Newsround, show that 15% of seven to 10-year-olds said they feel that being online and comparing their life to others can contribute to feelings of loneliness. One in three 11 to 16-year-olds felt the same.

Kate Roberts, 18, from Girlguiding said: "This survey shows that loneliness is an important issue facing girls and young women. Even girls who regularly see their friends can still feel lonely if they go out without them knowing and then they see images on social media. This can cause girls to feel lonely and isolated.".

But interestingly, some girls said they felt quite the opposite about going online.

One in five 7 to 10-year-olds said that they feel being online - for example, using social media, like YouTube and Instagram - helps them to feel less lonely, while three in ten 11 to 16-year-olds felt this way.

So we want to know what you think. Let us know in the vote below and read on to find out more about what the results said about the issue of loneliness.

Is loneliness a new issue for young girls?

It is not the first time that loneliness has been in the news recently. Recent surveys suggest that it is an issue that is increasingly affecting young people - especially girls.

Just last week, the Office for National Statistics released figures that suggested about one in 10 young people (aged between 10 and 24) in the UK often feel lonely.

Over one in three said they sometimes felt lonely - and it was in fact more girls who felt this way than boys.

The figures also showed that some young people used social media to "cover up" their feelings.

Girls on their phones.Getty Images
ONS figures suggest that feelings of loneliness affect girls more than boys

Earlier this year, Childline reported that more children were seeking help from the charity for problems with loneliness.

It, too, said that social media may be causing more children to have these feelings.

What causes loneliness in young people?

There are many factors that might cause a young person - whether it's a girl or a boy - to feel lonely. The Girlguiding results showed that it wasn't just being online that can do this.

Statistic showing that 15% of girls aged seven to 10 think that being online can help girls and young women to feel lonely.Getty Images

Girls said there are other factors too that they think are likely to contribute to girls and young women feeling like this. These included:

  • Not having anybody to talk to
  • Not feeling like anyone understands
  • Finding it hard to make friends
  • Not having enough opportunities to try new and fun things
  • Not feeling safe going outside
  • The area where you live - e.g. in the country, lack of public transport, less to do in the area
Statistic showing that 19% of girls aged seven to 10 think that being online can help girls and young women to feel less lonely.Alamy
What can help to deal with loneliness?

In this most recent survey, being online didn't come top of the list of ways that could help girls to feel less lonely.

Just under three quarters of 7 to 10-year-olds (72%) thought that talking to a friend could help to do this.

Talking to family members, doing activities or playing with pets, taking part in activities like art or sport, being part of a youth group, going outdoors and helping other people were also listed as good ways to deal with lonely feelings.

What should you do if you're worried?

If you are at all worried about anything that you have read in this article, or if you're worried that you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of loneliness, it's important that you speak to somebody about how you feel.

This might be an adult that you trust like a parent, another family member or a teacher.

Or you can ring Childline for free on 0800 1111 or contact them online.

For more help and advice about your online life, the BBC has lots of videos, games and much more at BBC Own It.

Comments

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  • View all (3)
  • Comment number 3. Posted by U17133673

    13 Dec 2018 17:09
    @TheFandomGirl agreed. I like being online because I can be the person I am too afraid to be in real life.
  • Comment number 2. Posted by TheFandomGirl

    13 Dec 2018 14:33
    That's why I think the internet is both good and bad.

    (edited by moderator)
    [See advice below]

    You sound like you need to talk to someone about what you are going through at the moment. You could speak to a family member, a friend, a guardian or a teacher.

    If there’s really no one you feel you can speak to, you can speak to a ChildLine counsellor by calling 0800 11 11 (calls are free), visiting their website at childline.org.uk, or by downloading the free ChildLine app, called For Me.


    There also advice helplines here:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/findoutmore/advice-helplines


    Try to talk to someone as soon as possible. It might surprise you how much better it feels when you share a problem.

    CBBC
  • Comment number 1. Posted by TheFandomGirl

    13 Dec 2018 14:31
    I think the internet makes me feel less lonely, however, this isn't the case with everyone.
    I like it because you can usually find someone who is going through the same thing you are.
    It's also easier for me to talk about my feelings and emotions online.
    I can be the person I'm too scared to be in real life.
    However, it can also be the opposite, making me feel like I have to live up to certain expectations.
    Seeing all of these amazing people makes me start to fake being someone who's not actually me.
    This can be a negative thing because I start to dislike the person I actually am.