Lonely Teens: A Bigger Issue Than We Think?
Ivy Liao
Britannia Community Secondary
Floor Location : M 001 H

In today’s society, there are many psychological issues faced by humans, including depression, addiction, anxiety, just to name a few. Today, depression rates among teenagers are even higher than those of teenagers in the Great Depression. At any one time, between 10 to 15 percent of teens suffer from symptoms of depression, and two of those main symptoms are low-self esteem and social withdrawal. Therefore, the aim of this study was to find out how the way teenagers in high-school spend their time influences loneliness rates in their lives considering that majority of teenagers in North America have all their basic needs met and usually a lot of free time on their hands.
For the purposes of this study, surveys were distributed to teenagers aged 13 to 18 which contained questions about the activities that the participants took part in after-school on a regular basis, a variety of background questions and questions from three different validated scales: the Subjective Happiness Scale, a validated measure of global subjective happiness, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, a validated scale for assessing self-esteem and the revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, a validated scale for assessing loneliness.
The hypothesis of this project was that teenagers that spent more time doing solitary activities would face higher rates of loneliness compared to those that participate in more activities that involved face to face contact with other people. It was also hypothesized that greater amounts of time spent using electronics would influence higher loneliness rates as well.
The results of the study supported the hypothesis, showing that teenagers who spent more time doing social activities that included face to face contact with others had lower rates of loneliness compared to those who spent more time doing solitary activities. It was also noted that self-esteem and happiness rates had an inverse relationship with loneliness rates and that a high use of electronics also correlated to higher loneliness rates.
Some errors that may have affected the results were also discovered, such as possible dishonest and inaccurate answers due to social desirability and/or the subjectivity of the various sensitive emotions. But all in all, the results show that the way teens spend their time definitely affect rates of loneliness, self-esteem, and happiness in their lives.
If applied in real life, this study would hopefully create awareness of how teenagers’ lives could be negatively impacted through solitary activities and possibly encourage teenagers to leave their electronic devices more often and take part in face to face interaction. With more specific and relevant data on teenage patterns presented to teenagers themselves, they could realize the importance of keeping themselves healthy, and from there hopefully teenage depression rates would decrease.