“Loneliness may well be New Zealand’s next big public health issue.”
The research, as far as we are aware, includes the first and only study of loneliness among New Zealands youth aged 9 to 16. The research showed that youth are less likely to feel lonely if they get on with classmates, have a cohesive family, live in a good neighbourhood and have close friends (see figure). On the other hand, youth are more likely to feel lonely if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or if they have internet friends they have not met face-to-face.
A limitation of the research was that both the 2012 NZ General Social Survey and 2006 Youth Connectedness Project used a single question to assess loneliness. In the 2012 General Social Survey the question was expressed in terms of ‘social isolation’, which is not the same as loneliness (the question was changed to ‘loneliness’ in the 2014 and 2016 General Social Surveys). A further limitation was the age of the Youth dataset. The Youth dataset was further limited by its smaller sample size of 1,866 participants versus about 8,000 participants in the 2012 General Social Survey.