Young people most likely to feel bored and lonely during coronavirus pandemic, ONS figures show

Gabriella Swerling
Those aged 16 to 29 were significantly more likely than older people to report feeling bored - Naomi Baker/Getty Images Europe
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Young people are feeling more bored and lonely during the coronavirus pandemic than those aged 60 and over, Government data has shown. 

Three quarters (76 per cent) of people aged 16 to 29 said their well-being had been negatively affected by the outbreak, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. A further 42 per cent said the lockdown was making their mental health worse.

Despite the youngest age group (16 to 19-year-olds) reporting lower anxiety on average than most other age groups, those aged 16 to 29 who said they were worried about the impact of the health crisis on their well-being were significantly more likely to report being stressed or anxious (72 per cent) than those aged 60 and over (54 per cent). 

They were also significantly more likely than either those aged 30 to 59 or those aged 60 and over to report feeling bored, lonely (51 per cent) or that the lockdown was making their mental health worse.

In comparison, 43 per cent of people aged 60 and over reported feeling bored, while 27 per cent of 30 to 59-year-olds and 26 per cent of people aged 60 and over reported feeling lonely.

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Dawn Snape, the 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 per cent 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."

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

Last week, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said he hoped all students would be able to return to schools in September

However, charities and education professionals have warned that may be too late and that the delay in receiving face-to-face education is having a lasting impact on their well-being.

Responding to the data, Richard Crellin, policy manager at The Children's Society, said the figures "lay bare the devastating impact that being unable to attend school and college is having on young adults".

He added: "This is causing worry for young people, not only about their ability to learn now, but also about their plans for the future. It is harming their well-being at a time when they are already more likely to be lonely and to report bigger impacts on their mental health than older people.

"We don't know how children under 16 are feeling, because the Government does not properly measure their well-being as it does for over-16s – but it is clearly a major concern that they are also being hit hard right now and could suffer long-term consequences."

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 coronavirus said their well-being had been affected.

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