Global health service company Cigna published a report this Tuesday surveying loneliness in the United States. Cigna collected data on more than 20,000 adults, ages 18 and older, and found that a majority of them are lonely. The study showed that those between 18 and 22, also known as Generation Z, are in the worst social health and have the highest reported loneliness.
Cigna used the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a widely-used measure of loneliness which analyzes negative affect, social isolation, and tendencies of group affiliation. The Scale has a loneliness scoring system which ranges from twenty to eighty points, and Cigna recorded those who scored above forty-three as definitively “lonely.” Among others, many of the reported reasons for loneliness were lack of companionship, meaningless relationships, and isolation from others.
Accordingly, Cigna found that social media use is correlated with loneliness, due to its amplification of feelings of isolation. This would explain why Generation Z, some of the most active users of social media, scored so high on the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Cigna notes, however, that social media use is one of many factors that contribute to loneliness, and is not a sole predictor.
Cigna reports that some feelings loneliness can be remedied with a balance between healthy habits and socialization. This includes getting sleep, incorporating physical activity into daily routines, and spending time with family and friends. Fortunately, there is also some redemption for college students – those who live with others are less likely to feel lonely, so thank your roommates for helping you!
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