ONS: Children’s and young people’s experiences of loneliness: 2018

6 December 2018

The Office for National Statistics analysis of children’s and young people’s views, Office for National Statistics logoexperiences and suggestions to overcome loneliness, using in-depth interviews, the Community Life Survey 2016 to 2017 and Good Childhood Index Survey, 2018.

Main points
Children (aged 10 to 15 years)

• 11.3% of children said that they were “often” lonely; this was more common among younger children aged 10 to 12 years (14.0%) than among those aged 13 to 15 years (8.6%).
• 27.5% of children who received free school meals said they were “often” lonely, compared with 5.5% of those who did not.
• 19.5% of children living in a city reported “often” feeling lonely, compared with just over 5% of those living in either towns or rural areas.
• Children who reported “low” satisfaction with their health said they “often” felt lonely (28.3%), compared with those who had “medium, high or very high” satisfaction (about 10%).
• Children who reported “low” satisfaction with their relationships with family and friends were also more likely to say they were “often” lonely (34.8% and 41.1%, respectively)

Young people (aged 16 to 24 years)

• 9.8% of young people said that they were “often” lonely.
• Nearly half of young men reported that they “hardly ever or never” felt lonely, compared with 32.4% of young women.
• Those reporting no long-term illness or disability were much more likely to say they “hardly ever or never” felt lonely (44.8%) than those with a long-term illness or disability (19.3%).
• Young people living in a household with other adults were more likely to say that they “hardly ever or never” felt lonely than those living in single-adult households (over 40% compared with 18.2%, respectively).

Read the full report on the ONS website


Living with long-term illness, disability or impairments
Young people who require extensive support from carers to be mobile, get out of the house or interact with others virtually may be particularly at risk of loneliness and isolation. This is consistent with the survey findings reported earlier showing that children and young people who reported lower satisfaction with their health or reported long-term illness or disability were significantly more likely to experience more frequent loneliness.

“Quite often there are long periods of time when I’m not with the carers, where people aren’t talking to me. I mean when [Name] goes at five o’clock I’ll see mother and father periodically probably, but I won’t see anybody to sit down and talk to until he comes in at eight o’clock the next morning and does it all over again with a sense of déjà vu.” (Male, aged 22 years)

Young people with sensory impairments also noted that they found it difficult to make friends.

“When I was younger I couldn’t really hear well so that made it hard to make friends then, so I was quite lonely then I think.” (Male, aged 12 years)


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