Young Australians lonely but connected

An Australian crowd at the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival on June 18, 2011 in Laura, Australia.


Mark Kolbe

Australian young people are highly connected by the internet but increasingly suffering from loneliness according to a new national survey.

The Relationships Indicators Survey 2011, which polled 1204 adults this year found that 30 per cent of Australians aged 25 to 34 told the survey they were frequently lonely, far more than any other age group. The second most lonely were the young adults - 19 per cent of them were frequently lonely.

The Australian loners were more likely to try and find connections through the internet, the survey found.

According to a report in The Age newspaper, “the frequently lonely were much more likely to try online dating, and to use several forms of social media (particularly Facebook) to maintain friendships.”

The survey found that 40 per cent of people who used an average of four methods to communicate – such as Facebook, Twitter, email and text - were lonely compared with just 11 per cent of people who used only one.

More than 50 per cent of people said social networking sites such as Facebook had no impact on the quality of their relationships, while 27 per cent said the sites had a positive impact.

Melbourne University philosopher Damon Young told The Age that Generation Y suffers from isolation because people don't know how to be alone.

"People who are constantly connected electronically find being alone very difficult, so it's not that these people are necessarily more alone; it's that they feel it more keenly. I would guess that older people who haven't been continually saturated with information are actually able to stand their own company."

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