Research: 65% of Gen Z experience loneliness regularly

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

Loneliness does not only affect older people; as many as 65% of people from the so-called Generation Z, aged 13 to 28, struggle with it regularly, the 'No More Loneliness' study shows. What they want most is direct contact with other people.

This is another edition of this report carried out as part of the MindGenic AI project. The first edition was prepared in 2022, under the slogan 'Loneliness of Generation Z', i.e. young people born after 1995. In the second study, the survey conducted in the first half of October 2023 covered 3,700 people from Generation Z. It shows not only the scale of loneliness in this group and its causes, but also how young people try to deal with it.

Loneliness is defined as mental or emotional discomfort resulting from a lack of physical contact with other people or perceived isolation. The report 'No More Loneliness' shows that as many as 65% of young people aged 13 to 28 admit to having such a condition. Over 32% declare that they feel it often, and 33% - sometimes. When asked about the emotions that accompany them in moments of loneliness, they mainly indicate sadness (43.7%) and helplessness (20.2%).

According to the authors of the report, the surveyed people are aware of their loneliness, but half of them do not talk about it with their peers or family. They indicate that what they miss most is contact with other people. At the same time, 29% of respondents admit that they find it hard to make new friends.

According to the report, a good sign is that six out of ten people take steps to avoid feeling lonely. Most often it is an attempt to establish direct contact with another person (65.1%), with the use of social media in second place (20.7%).

'We are concerned that every fifth zoomer in Poland wants to escape loneliness by following a world full of illusions that is completely different from reality. This is proof of how much they lack the tools and competences to build real and good relationships in the real world. Unfortunately, zoomers do not acquire these skills over time. The older they get, the more often they feel lonely,’ says Magda Wrzos, author of the study and member of the MindGenic AI project.

Every fourth respondent declares that they spend more than five hours a day online to 'kill' loneliness. 2.7 percent feel lonely when there is no access to technology and they have to settle for the offline world.

Every fourth representative of the surveyed generation declares feeling lonely even in the company of other people. At the same time, zoomers rarely talk about loneliness. Forty-four percent of respondents have never discussed this topic with their peers, 53.7% have not discussed it with family or other close persons. At the same time, 15.2% of respondents declare a lack of support for other lonely people in their environment, and 16.9% would like to offer such support, but do not know what it might be.

'Some young people are probably not aware of the problem of loneliness, others feel unsure about their ability to help or simply lack knowledge about it. The answer to this challenge is education and raising social awareness of the needs of other people and promoting empathetic communication and social involvement in experiencing difficult emotions,’ says Maciej Maćkowiak, psychologist, addiction therapy specialist and psychotherapist for children and adolescents.

Psychologists working in the MindGenic AI project claim that they have prepared a set of tasks and exercises that can help understand the causes of loneliness and find an effective way out of the crisis. The aim of the MindGenic AI project, financed by the European Regional Development Fund, is to provide support in solving problems resulting from loneliness, low acceptance and boredom.

'We want to show young people how to listen to the reality around them and how to be closer to others. Even before the launch of the MindGenic AI tool, we will publish an eBook in which we will present our knowledge in order to be able to guide zoomers through the support program on an ad hoc basis. First of all, we encourage you to take a short test on the website to help you check whether the problem of loneliness actually affects you. We are not always aware of it, says Magda Wrzos.

The authors of the report warn that despite constant access to the Internet, smartphones and video games, establishing deep emotional relationships in the physical world is still a huge challenge for them. 'Loneliness has become a real epidemic, and people of the younger generation - especially after many months of isolation caused by COVID-19 - experience it more than any other age group,’ the authors say. (PAP)

Zbigniew Wojtasiński

zbw/ bar/ kap/

tr. RL

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