As the influence of social media continues to impact the lives of children and teenagers, it seems that the much-reported loneliness epidemic faced by the UK’s young people is only getting worse.
According to Childline, a charity which handles calls from children going through tough times, it has seen a 14% rise in the number of children reporting that they are lonely over the past year.
Nearly 80% of children seeking help for loneliness were girls, many of whom cited social media as the leading cause of their feelings of isolation. With social media primarily being used as a platform through which to cultivate images of the perfect life, it’s no wonder girls are starting to feel the pressure. Pictures of others taking part in fun days out shopping and socialising can cause children to feel left out, contributing to feelings of low self esteem and anxiety.
Before social media became so ubiquitous within our children’s lives, there was far less pressure to conform and to build up a certain kind of ‘social capital’. Now, children are restricted from pursuing their own interests and exploring the complexities of human relationships, as they are under so much pressure to look, act and socialise in a certain way. This may have devastating consequences in the future, producing a generation of adults unable to connect with each other on a deep and personal level.
Tackling loneliness in the classroom - Despite the worrisome headlines surrounding young people’s propensity for loneliness, there are things that educators can do to tackle feelings of isolation.
First of all, conducting frank and judgement-free discussions about loneliness and the role of social media in pupils’ lives can be a great way of getting them to open up and help them resist the temptation to constantly compare themselves to others.
On a practical level, enforcing stringent rules against phone use in the classroom can take them away from the pressures of the online world for a while. Arranging school desks into different formations from lesson to lesson can also help children interact with classmates other than the ones they chose to interact with, which in turn allows them to get to know other children that they may not typically come into contact with. This can boost confidence and self-esteem, as well as reducing feelings of isolation.
We understand that school furniture isn't the answer to wiping out loneliness in the classroom but perhaps in some small way it can be of help. When ordering in new school desks and chairs, you may like to consider trapeziodal school tables, with their almost triangular shape, will add interest to the space. We have a range of brightly coloured classroom chairs that will brighten spaces and hopefully faces!
Another Childline finding is that some children feel excluded by parents. Here's a short video that hit me hard: