New research reveals parent and teen divide over impact of tech on loneliness

By Internet Matters Team on

TalkTalk Teenage Loneliness and Technology report reveals that half of teens in the UK (48%) think that social media and the internet makes them feel less lonely while only a quarter (26%) of their parents agree.

The study, which looks into both parents and their own teenagers’ attitudes to technology and loneliness, interviewed more than 2,000 young people aged 13-16 years old and more than 2,000 parents of the same teenagers.

Teen views on tech largely positive

It found teenagers were far more optimistic than their parents about the positive impact of technology. Half (51%) of 13-16 year olds said that during times when they have felt lonely, technology has also provided a solution to their loneliness: they have made new friends, received support and advice, and received positive comments while being online.

However, worryingly of the teenagers that did feel lonely, just under a third (31%) admitted to not having discussed their feelings with anyone.

Parents more lonely than teens

Across the UK, parents felt lonelier than their teenage children – which may be impacting how they advise and talk to their children about the issue. 28% of parents said they felt lonely often, always or some of the time, compared to 21% of young people.

Top causes of loneliness unchanged for teens

The top four causes of youth loneliness, according to both parents and teenagers, were issues relating to money, trust, friendships and shyness. This suggests that traditional economic and social issues are the main factors driving loneliness among teenagers, while digital technology-led issues linked to the online world contribute less.

Parents in need of support to help teens navigate digital experience

The report reveals that most parents (70%) worry about their teenagers’ use of technology. Yet over a third (37%) felt ill-equipped or are simply unsure how to help manage or navigate their teenagers’ tech and online use safely.

This lack of confidence is leading to inaction among parents towards their teenagers’ safe use of the internet.

CEO of Internet Matters Carolyn Bunting said:

“The research reiterates how teenagers don’t differentiate between their online and offline world and they turn to devices to help them feel connected and supported.

“By being in tune with their child’s digital life, parents can feel empowered to help them take advantage of all the opportunities that the online world has to offer.

“Having regular, open and honest conversations and getting to grips with the tech they’re using, is the easiest way for parents to create an effective and positive online environment for their children.”

Parents’ guide to help teens benefit from the online world

To help parents address this issue, we’ve created a guide to tackling loneliness with technology. Written with the support digital parenting expert Dr Elizabeth Milovidov, it features 6 top tips that parents can use to help teens get the best out of their digital life and combat feelings of loneliness.

Resources

See advice to help teenagers navigate the online world and tackle the complex issue of loneliness.

SEE GUIDE

Download research

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