Childline says social media could be the cause of a rise in loneliness in children

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An increasing amount of children are contacting help services due to feelings of loneliness, new figures have shown.

In a report issued by Childline, it was revealed that support service has conducted 4,636 counselling sessions specifically for loneliness in 2017/2018. This marks a staggering 14% rise from the previous year.

The helpline state that they have received calls from children as young as 10 asking for advice on how to deal with feelings of isolation and that many callers related their loneliness directly to effects of social media. Why? Because they know when they’re not invited to things and constantly have to deal with the illusion that everyone is having fun.

One teenage boy told Childline: “I see all my friends having a good time on social media and it gets me down, I feel like no one cares enough to invite me.My mood is getting worse and now I’m just upset all the time and can’t stop crying.”

Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen said: “Loneliness needs to be taken seriously because it is potentially damaging to children’s physical and mental health.”

“Are we all too busy to make space and time for our children? Is it that we have lost the habit of eating together?Or is it the illusion created by social networks that everyone else is liked, popular and enjoying a far more exciting life so they feel lonelier than ever?”

“Whatever the reason, it’s crucial that young people know they can always contact Childline to speak to someone who will listen and care about them.”

The figures have been released by the NSPCC as they launch the  “Are you there?” campaign. This calls on the Government to provide funding to Childline so it can support more children and teenagers struggling with mental health problems.

If you’re worried your child, or a child you know, is suffering with loneliness but finds it hard to talk openly, Childline advises the below:

  • Start conversations at a time when you won’t be interrupted such as on a walk or car ride
  • Try not to overreact if your child tells you something that alarms and upsets you as it may put them off talking to you
  • If your child isn’t ready to talk make sure you try again in a few days
  • Make sure you take in what your child is telling you – it shows you value their feelings and opinions.

Any child or teenager can contact Childline anytime by dialling 0800 1111, visiting childline.org.uk or by downloading the For Me app. It’s a good idea to let your child know about these free services as they might find it easier to talk openly with someone other than a family member.