No new friends. No old friends. No friends… period?
More than 20% of millennials surveyed in a YouGov poll released this week claimed that they don’t have a single friend. And less than a third of Millennials said they have double-digit friends, according to the data, culled online in early July.
Even if younger Americans are overstating their isolation, the jarring numbers reflect long-term rising trends in loneliness. Studies have indicated that loneliness has myriad negative mental and physical health effects.
“Strong social relationships support mental health, and that ties into better immune function, reduced stress and less cardiovascular activation,” Debra Umberson, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas, told Time magazine in 2015.
Thirty percent of millennials reported feeling lonely always or often in the YouGov data, while 20% of Gen Xers and 15% of baby boomers said the same.
Curiously, in addition to 22% of millennials saying they’re friendless, 25% in the age group said they also had zero acquaintances — possibly reflecting a misunderstanding of the question. (Unless they don’t work or go outside…)
Despite the “social” in social media, a 2018 study out of the University of Pennsylvania linked usage of apps like Facebook and Instagram to social isolation. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” the study’s author, psychologist Melissa Hunt, said at the time.
The most common number of friends for millennials was one to four, and 18% said they have five to nine.
Six percent of millennials said they have more than 50 friends, and 38% said they have made a new friend in the last half-year.
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