Study Shows That Lonely Teenagers Are More Likely to Underperform at School

King’s College London has found that lonely teenagers are more likely to have bad grades. Researchers found that children who felt lonely from age 12 often had poor grades. Unfortunately, this didn’t change when they were less lonely in the future.

Moreover, the team found that short or long-term loneliness in teens had detrimental effects. It could cause compulsive smoking use of their smartphones, self-harm, and other mental challenges. The team also found that teenagers who didn’t have enough support could continue to regress in their social positions.

How researchers conducted the study 

Researchers found 2232 volunteers from Wales and England through the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study. They examined the teenagers’ life outcomes before they turned 18. They looked at educational performance, perceived loneliness, and general well-being.

Results showed that lonely teenagers often had adverse outcomes. By the time they turned 18, those who had been lonely for about six years had higher rates of anxiety, poor quality of sleep, less life satisfaction, and depression.

According to a lead study author at King’s College London, Dr. Timothy Matthews, the study confirms that loneliness can negatively affect a teenager in later life. He explains that 50% of the respondents aged between 10 and 12 reported feeling occasionally lonely, while 15% admitted they felt lonely often.

The adverse effects could persist even after the children recovered

Dr. Matthews explains that being lonely could be distressing even if it lasts for a short period. For this reason, we should help those who experience loneliness to get through it.

The study showed that children who experienced loneliness at 12 and recovered were less likely to struggle with their mental health. However, there was still a risk of underperforming in school.

The team speculated that this was because the teenagers had disrupted emotional development, which often lagged other areas of development. Catching up without extra help was often difficult. For this reason, parents and guardians need to guide teenagers through their recovery.

The researchers also discovered that genes often presented a risk factor for loneliness. However, this was often not an issue as children would thrive in an environment with supportive parents despite their genetic predisposition.

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