Are our young people less connected to their community than older people?

How close do you feel to your neighbourhood? With much of our lives having moved online, there is a perception that people have become detached from their local community.

Young people – as the biggest users of the internet and social media – are thought to be most likely to forego conversation in person for their phone or device. That said, I see many young people, especially those in their 20s,  eschewing social media.

JESHOOTS / Pixabay

But last year’s Ofcom communications report showed that most people of all ages see the internet as important for maintaining personal relationships while recognising that it hampers face-to-face communications.

So, is it fair to single young people out, or are we all losing touch with our community?

The Office for National Statistics says: young people feel less connected to their neighbourhood than older adults.

This is despite many young people having lived locally for all or most of their life. More than half (55%) of 16 – 24-year-olds have lived in their neighbourhood for at least 10 years, compared with 57% of those aged 25 and over.

But it is wrong to say that young people are losing touch with their community. In fact, they feel a greater sense of belonging now compared with a few years ago, while levels of trust and local area satisfaction remain unchanged. It’s clear that young people are as likely to participate in their local community as the rest of the population, but, despite seeing improvement from 2013 to 2014, young people are less likely to say they belong to their neighbourhood than older adults.

This could be linked to the fact that young people are more likely to report feelings of loneliness. According to the most recent Community Life Survey (PDF, 725KB), 8% of 16 – 24-year-olds living in England felt lonely “often” or “always” in 2017 to 2018, compared with 5% of those aged 25 and over.

Research by King’s College London has investigated the possible link between young people’s loneliness and neighbourhood belonging. Their study – based on a sample of 18-year-olds living in the UK – found that “feeling lonely could put a negative bias on people’s subjective perceptions of their local area”, leading them to “miss out on opportunities to connect with people around them”.

So, what should we be doing to engage our young people in the Bude area? It would be brilliant to hear from some of our younger members of Bude.

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