Younger generations are lonelier and social media doesn’t help, survey finds

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Loneliness is on the rise and millennials and members of Generation Z are lonelier than older generations, according to a new survey. The Cigna 2020 Loneliness Index is based on a questionnaire answered by more than 10,400 people.

The health insurance company said Thursday 61% of the adults surveyed reported they feel lonely, which is a seven percentage-point increase compared to 2018. It found men are slightly lonelier than women. But the biggest difference may be between generations. Nearly 79% of Gen Z respondents and 71% of millennials reported feeling lonely, compared to just half of the baby boomers.

One major factor could be social media. The survey found instead of bringing people together, social media platforms have a “major impact” on loneliness and avid users were more likely to feel “alone, isolated, left out and without companionship.”

Loneliness is also impacting the workplace, especially younger employees. For example, Gen Z respondents said they are twice as likely as boomers to feel “abandoned” by co-workers when they’re under pressure, and the majority of Gen Z workers feel “emotionally distant” from colleagues.

Those feelings are impacting performance. Lonely workers said they’re twice as likely to call out sick and five times as likely to miss work because of stress. Within the span of just one month, lonely workers said they think about quitting their job twice as often as their non-lonely co-workers. 

But making friends with colleagues, sharing more in-person conversations instead of online messages, and creating an environment where workers feel they can share their goals, were all shown to make a difference.

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