Under-30s ‘much more likely’ to feel lonely or bored than older age groups

·4-min read

The under-30s are much more likely to feel lonely or bored during the coronavirus pandemic than older age groups, a survey suggests.

Three quarters (76%) of young people who said their wellbeing had been affected by the outbreak reported feeling bored and 51% reported feeling lonely, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This compared with 45% of those aged 30 to 59 and 43% of people aged 60 and over feeling bored, and 27% of 30-59-year-olds and 26% of people aged 60 and over feeling lonely.

They were also much more likely than older respondents to say the lockdown was making their mental health worse.

Personal wellbeing in Britain during lockdown.
(PA Graphics)

Some 42% of people aged 16 to 29 whose wellbeing was affected said their mental health had deteriorated, compared with 25% of those aged 30 to 59 and 15% of those people aged 60 and over.

The ONS figures cover the period April 3 to May 10 and are based on responses to its regular opinions and lifestyle survey in Britain.

The body analysed responses from 6,400 adults, including 740 aged 16 to 29.

Around two-thirds of this age group who were worried about Covid-19 said their wellbeing had been affected.

Using three measures of wellbeing: life satisfaction, feelings that things done in life are worthwhile and happiness, young people reported much lower scores on average than those aged 60 years and over.

But they tended to be more optimistic than older age groups about how long they expected the effect of the pandemic to last, with over half (55%) expecting their lives to return to normal within six months.

People aged in their 60s were the least optimistic about how long it will take for life to return to normal, with a higher proportion saying it will take more than a year or that life will never return to normal, than those aged under 60 years and those aged 70 years and over.

Dawn Snape, assistant director of the ONS sustainability and inequalities division, said: “Younger people were generally more optimistic about lockdown, with more than half expecting life to return to normal within six months.

“One of their biggest worries was the impact on schools and universities, in particular being unable to attend them, the quality of their education and uncertainty around exams.

“While they were more optimistic, young people were much more likely to report being bored and lonely during the lockdown period, and 42% of them reported that it was making their mental health worse.

“They turned to TV, friends and family and exercise to help them cope during this time.”

The ONS figures also show that young people were least likely to have checked on their neighbours.

Nearly half (47%) of 16 to 29-year-olds surveyed said that during the past seven days they had never checked on neighbours who might need help, compared with 30% of those aged 30-59 years old and 25% of people aged 60 and over.

Among those aged 80 and over, 22% said they had checked on their neighbours three or more times during the past week – compared with just 10% of people aged 16-29.

Young people are also more likely to be concerned about how the pandemic is affecting their relationships, the survey suggests.

More than a third (35%) of young people worried about the virus said they were concerned about this, compared with 26% of those aged 30 to 59 years and 23% of those aged 60 years and over.

Aidan Jones, chief executive at relationships charity Relate, said: “When you’re in your teens and twenties, your friends are often a huge part of your world, so being apart from them for weeks on end will be really difficult.

“Add to this not being able to see your girlfriend or boyfriend and having your hobbies, education and travel plans put on hold and it’s no wonder many young people are feeling lonely and seeing their wellbeing suffer.”

He added: “It has become clear from our work with clients that Covid-19 is highlighting underlying issues in relationships, such as incompatibility or substance misuse. If your relationship is strong, the whole experience may have brought you closer, but if there already issues, these may now be more apparent.

“We’d urge anyone experiencing relationship difficulties to consider webcam or telephone counselling at the earliest possible stage.”

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