Loneliness rates among US students...
...have decreased in all grades in recent decades
We’ve seen that on the whole people around the world are getting happier. But what about social interaction? There is much talk of a ‘loneliness epidemic’ as we all spend more time on our phones and less time with each other IRL.
As with a lot of the negative news we encounter every day, this feels believable, but does the data bear it out? The answer, surprisingly to me, is no. Long term loneliness data is in short supply, and very recent data even less so, but US college students have been responding to comparable questionnaires on loneliness for the last few decades, and overall loneliness figures have dropped across all grades.
Other studies bear this out, finding that ‘It’s not the case that loneliness is increasing across generations’ (Our world in data).
So while we are spending more time alone, that doesn’t mean we’re more lonely. In fact when I look at my own technology use, it brings me far closer to my friends and family than I think I would be without it. Free worldwide video calls, instant messaging and group chats give us the ability to keep in touch with those most important to us in ways that were impossible in even the recent past. Why not take a moment to use those technologies to tell someone you love them and make the world a little more cheerful?