A campaign called Find Your Tribe has been launched following research highlighting that even before lockdown, many people in the UK have been suffering with loneliness.
The study, commissioned by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky, showed that four-in-10 (42%) of Brits who say they have felt lonely during the pandemic have actually felt less lonely, or the same way, than they did before it began.
With social distancing restrictions currently in place, this new research also shows that people have been increasingly turning to technology during the pandemic to help alleviate their loneliness by helping them stay connected with friends and loved ones.
In fact, over a third of Brits (35%) surveyed agree that the social restrictions brought in as a result of COVID-19 have made them feel more comfortable using technology to connect with others than they did before. This figure rises to 51% of millennials.
WHY IT MATTERS
With a reported two-in-five Brits feeling lonely before COVID-19, there is a clear indication that loneliness is a systematic problem that needs to be taken seriously and remedied, especially once lockdown ends.
It also highlights that while technology is clearly proving to be a benefit, not everybody is as tech-savvy as they would like to be. Nearly half (46%) of people who say they are lonely all of the time wish they were more confident in using technology, as it would help them feel less lonely.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
It was also found that the trend persists in Europe, with 41% of Europeans who have felt lonely during the pandemic actually feeling less lonely, or the same way, than they did before it began.
Generation Z has been the loneliest age demographic during the pandemic, with nearly three-quarters admitting to feeling lonely since April 2020. While older generations are often prioritised by governments and communities to ensure they are not left isolated, younger people could be missing out on the support they need.
Several initiatives and healthcare digital tools have been launched recently, providing people vital access to telehealth psychologists or mental health apps to assist people who may be struggling with the effects of loneliness.
ON THE RECORD
David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky, said: “We are fortunate that we can stay connected online during this period and we are likely to see these habits continue even after any remaining social distancing measures are lifted. It’s important to create secure online habits from the outset to make sure that we do not fall victim to cybercrime at a time when coronavirus is making us more dependent on technology.”
Psychotherapist and founder of Psyched Kathleen Saxton, said: “Whilst at times we can be rather bedazzled by the technology on offer to us over the last few years, it is fair to say that we have been grateful for their existence in recent months. It is clear to see that even though technology can never replace human contact, it has gone some way to addressing the loneliness everyone has been feeling during this rather torrid time. Maybe the robots are coming – but maybe they are bearing positive gifts.”