New ‘generation isolation’ spend most time alone on their phones

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One in five aged between 11 and 18 spend most of their free time on their own – meaning 988,000 have reclusive lives in a trend made worse by lockdowns. Just one percent admit to hanging out on the streets.

OnSide, a charity for young people that runs youth clubs, got YouGov to ask 5,000-plus youngsters in England what they did in their downtime.

More than a third (37 percent) said they were gaming more now than before Covid with another third (32 percent) watching more TV.

Computer games are the most time-consuming leisure activity for a quarter of those quizzed while 22 percent watch streamed content and 21 percent spend the time using their phones. 

More than half are holed up in their bedrooms and 48 percent do not have opportunities to meet new people or make friends.

Benjamin Cunliffe, 16, who attends the OnSide Youth Zone at Wigan, Greater Manchester, admitted: “I was spending more and more time gaming at home. On some of the games, I’ve logged more than 1,000 hours. I couldn’t be bothered going out and found I felt angry and frustrated.

“So I started attending more sessions at Youth Zone, mostly playing sports. My mental health is much better, I feel just naturally happier.”

More than half (56 percent) of 11 to 18-year-olds told the survey they have medium to high anxiety levels in their lives. 

Kathryn Morley, boss of OnSide, said: “We cannot watch an entire generation of young people sleepwalking into social isolation.”

“They are not developing qualities necessary for mental wellbeing, those that lay the foundations for them to thrive into adulthood.”

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