The loneliness epidemic has escalated since the pandemic. Even before then, Springtide™ Research Institute was researching the consequences of loneliness among young people. Read on to discover helpful insights for youth workers who minister to teens.
Loneliness Is Rampant Among Teens
The findings are astonishing, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Belonging: Reconnecting America’s Loneliest Generation documents these findings and offers a research-based path forward.
Young people feel increasingly disconnected from institutional ties that have historically provided a stable web of relationships. For many, this is most obvious—and most poignantly felt—in the context of declining church attendance.
Our research largely confirms these trends but extends the findings by surveying kids as young as 13. We uncovered stories of young people almost entirely disconnected from caring institutions and, critically, from trusted adults.
Among the most salient—and alarming—findings:
- Nearly 1 in 3 young people has only 1 or 0 “trusted adults” in their lives.
- Almost 40% of 13- to 25-year-olds report they often have nobody to talk to.
- One in 3 young people feels alone much of the time.
We expected to find that attendance at religious gatherings—worship services, Bible studies, small groups—would ward off loneliness. Instead, even for kids who feel connected to religious organizations, these feelings persist.
Indeed, data shows no difference between the sense of loneliness among young people who attend religious services and those who don’t. In fact, one-fifth (20%) of young people who attend a religious service at least weekly still report feeling completely alone.
Our passion is to discover what does help youth feel connected and cared for. Belonging found that 62% of young people with zero trusted adult relationships feel completely alone. But, incredibly, for those with five or more trusted adult relationships, only 9% feel alone.
The data makes our heartfelt response clear. We must increase the number of trusted adult relationships in teenagers’ lives.
What do meaningful connections, trusted adults, and caring relationships look and feel like? And how do we become a force for good in young lives?