Loneliness can be defined as a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship, which happens when we have a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social relationships that we have, and those that we want.
TalkTalk has a long history of leading industry efforts to ensure the internet is a safer place for young people. But as technology constantly evolves, it presents new issues and challenges. That is why we recently looked at the relationship between loneliness and technology in teenagers aged between 13-16 years old, exploring if and how technology should be seen as a source, symptom or solution to tackling this growing issue.
The research has exposed a digital divide within the family, as teenagers and their parents have contrasting perceptions of how technology, the internet, and social media contribute to youth loneliness.
Half of teenagers think technology makes them less lonely but only a quarter of parents agree.
Traditional issues (money, trust, friendships and shyness) are the top causes of teenage loneliness rather than technology-led factors.
70% of parents worry about their children’s use of tech, but only 30% of parents surveyed use protection controls and software.
41% of parents have never discussed loneliness with their teenagers.
Teenagers have a more positive view of social media and online gaming platforms than their parents, as demonstrated below.
What we're doing
We're engaging with relevant stakeholders including customers, parents, the Government and regulators, and other service providers to explore this subject further.
We're delighted to have signed the Government’s Loneliness Pledge – committing to working together towards best practice in supporting potentially lonely employees.
Our parental filter, HomeSafe, allows parents to control what content their children access, and signposts to expert safety advice from Internet Matters.
We're committed to using our academic endorsed quantitative and qualitative findings to inform policy making. We will share our research with the academic community and regulators to improve outcomes for lonely and potentially lonely teenagers.
We'll promote independent guidance from Internet Matters aiming to advise teenagers and their parents about the tools available to them to make their online experience a safe and positive one.