The Office of National Statistics, (ONS) has recently published new analysis, showing that we spend most of our free time with others, but on average 100 minutes per day on our own.
Those aged 65 and over spend the most leisure time on their own. However, they’re more than twice as likely to chat with their neighbours, compared to 16-24-year olds.
The analysis also looks at leisure time spent alone and with others, enjoyment of time alone and with others and how often we see our family and friends.
Leisure time is the time when people are not working (including unpaid work like housework and caring for family members), studying, commuting or doing basic activities for existence like sleeping and eating at home.
Men have most leisure time alone
Men average almost 40 minutes per day more leisure time than women – a total of 6 hours and 9 minutes each day – spending 1 hour and 50 minutes of it on their own. Both sexes spend a similar proportion of their leisure time alone (30% for men and 27% for women).
Young adults and older people spend most leisure time alone
The amount of leisure time spent alone varies with age; 16 to 24-year-olds and those aged 55 and over spend the highest amount of time on their own.
People aged 25 to 54 (who have the least leisure time available) and children spend the least time by themselves. People aged 65 and over spend an average of 37% of their leisure time – 2 hours and 39 minutes per day – on their own.
“I want to be alone”
How does this time by ourselves affect our well-being? People who spend time alone are not necessarily lonely: loneliness can be influenced by a range of personal circumstances.
However, when considering the whole day (not just leisure time), people tend to enjoy the time they spend with others slightly more than time by themselves – although this can vary with age.
Children are the only age group who enjoy the time they spend alone significantly more than the time they spend with others. People’s enjoyment of both the time they spend alone and with others increases from the age of 55.
This might be because of the activities people are doing when they’re alone. Older people are more likely to be working, commuting and doing household chores, while children and young adults may do more enjoyable things when they’re by themselves.
Most people get together at least once a week
We see our family and friends fairly regularly – most people in England manage to see their loved ones at least once a week, especially those in the younger and older age groups. People in their late 30s and 40s are least likely to meet up, but even in this age group, 70% see relatives and friends weekly.