Life online contributing to loneliness in girls as young as seven

14 December 2018

Being online and comparing themselves to others is one of the leading factors of loneliness in girls, new research reveals today.

33 per cent of girls and young women aged 7-21 said that it was a factor they believed had an impact on loneliness levels, rising to 55 per cent of 17-21 year olds.

The statistics from Girlguiding show that loneliness is a significant problem for many of the UK’s young women.

Almost a quarter of girls and young women (23 per cent) say that they are lonely most of, or all of, the time.

Older teenagers and young women aged 17-21 are the most likely to suffer, with 48 per cent saying they feel lonely all or most of the time.

Girlguiding Advocate Kate Roberts, 18, said:

This survey shows that loneliness is an important issue facing girls and young women. Even girls who regularly see their peers can still feel lonely if friends go out without their knowledge and they then see images on social media. This can cause girls to feel lonely and isolated. It can be a part of bullying and lead to confidence issues as girls may feel there is something wrong with them and they are not the same as everyone else. I agree with the survey that joining a group like Girlguiding can help to combat loneliness because they get to meet people who share the same interests as them. Knowing you have something in common with other people can really help to end loneliness and boost your self-esteem.

The statistics show the impact of loneliness is having a stark effect on many girls’ lives, not only older people.

When asked what they thought the impact of feeling lonely was on girls’ lives, they responded:

  • 69 per cent said it made girls feel less confident
  • 67 per cent said it made girls feel less happy
  • 50 per cent said it made girls spend more time alone
  • 37 per cent said it made work/school harder for girls
  • 25 per cent said it made girls do less activities such as sport

Girlguiding surveyed 1000 girls and young women from across the UK, both inside and outside of Girlguiding’s membership.

The girls and young women surveyed also offered their thoughts on the best ways to combat loneliness.

  • 72 per cent of girls and young women said that talking to a friend made girls feel less lonely
  • 52 per cent said pets made them feel less lonely
  • 43 per cent said being part of a youth group such as Girlguiding made girls feel less lonely
  • 34 per cent said going outdoors and being in nature made girls feel less lonely
  • 27 per cent said being online and using social media made girls feel less lonely.

The research was carried out in November 2018 by Girlguiding and KantarTNS.

Earlier this year, Girlguiding announced its new programme of over 800 new badges and activities, including Healthy mind  for Rainbows (girls aged 7-10) and Self-care for Rangers (girls aged 14-18). They can also do Feel Good and Communicate skills builder activities throughout the course of their guiding journey.