Desperate Gen Z turns to ‘friendship applications’ online to strike up platonic relationships as stats reveal under 30s are the loneliest generation

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Members of Generation Z, born from 1997 onwards, have been applying online for friends - including British 25-year-old Rachel, pictured

Desperate Gen Z youngsters are turning to ‘friendship applications’ online begging to strike up platonic relationships, as statistics reveal the under-20s are the ‘loneliest generation’.

TikTok and Facebook are being bombarded with CV-style pleas from young people feeling isolated and alone – though health experts have warned about the dangers.

Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and the rise of social media are among the factors pinpointed for the surge in struggling young people anxiously reaching out online.

The hashtag #friendapplications on TikTok now has more than 10,400 posts. 

Office for National Statistics research shows people aged between 16 and 29 are twice as likely as over-70s to report feeling lonely often or always.

Members of Generation Z, born from 1997 onwards, have been applying online for friends – including British 25-year-old Rachel, pictured

TikTok user Misha asked followers whether anybody else found it 'so difficult to make genuine friends as an adult'

TikTok user Misha asked followers whether anybody else found it ‘so difficult to make genuine friends as an adult’

Another TikToker posted this with the hashtags 'bemyfriend' and 'friendapplications'

Another TikToker posted this with the hashtags ‘bemyfriend’ and ‘friendapplications’

And a Prince’s Trust study suggested 30 per cent of young people say they don’t know how to make new friends and have never felt more alone.

Generation Z is defined as people born from 1997 onwards, accounting for an estimated 72million worldwide – though those born in 2010 or later are now being termed ‘Generation Alpha’.

The burgeoning online friendship applications often list hobbies as well as favourite films and music acts – alongside despairing calls for connections.

British 25-year-old Rachel posted a video praising her partner but describing how she was ‘looking for some new friends’ and listing her likes such as music and hiking.

She wrote: ‘When you’re the only one making an effort in a friendship, sometimes it’s better to just cut your losses – want more people to have adventures with.’

Another TikToker called Misha told followers: ‘Is it just me or does anybody else find it so difficult to make genuine friends as an adult?’

A 15-year-old TikTok user from London issued a plea with the words ‘Why you should apply to be my best friend’, listing her interests as well as stipulations for anyone responding.

She wrote: ‘Must be 15-16 Must do at least one face reveal. Try to text at least once a day. Not racist, homophobic, ableist, rude or mean. Live in Europe (maybe even Europe so I can practice German with you).’

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Other social media users have offered their profiles as rallying points for Gen Z-ers on the hunt for friends to congregate.

One wrote: ‘I’m gonna be totally honest, I see thousands of teenagers commenting about how they don’t really have friends or a close friend, so I thought creating this account would be a good opportunity to find you people.’

Comments in response included: ‘I need a friend who will listen to my story when I’m feeling down (I will also listen to your story when you feeling down).’

Another person wrote: ‘PLEASE SOMEONE I badly need friends that I can talk to about my daily life happenings and won’t be annoyed and leave after like a week.’

And a separate post read: ‘If someone’s still there, i NEED someone who understands me and can be funny and have that “silly spark of insanity” and won’t leave in 1 week.’

Former secondary school headteacher and Gen X expert Alex Atherton compared the rise in ‘friendship applications’ to older generations’ use of lonely hearts ads – though said the rising cost of living made things trickier for youngsters.

He told MailOnline: ‘Modern technology may mean it is much easier to find others online with common interests, but Gen Z is far more likely to have friends they may never meet having grown up in the smartphone and social media era.

‘This can mean that their friendships only go so deep, and not beyond areas of initial interest – common interests may form a starting point for friendships, but they do not generate deep connections in themselves.

‘For Gen Z-ers, finding friends online may be viewed as a pragmatic way of solving a problem.

Gen Z-ers have been offering support to each other on TikTok while seeking friendships

Gen Z-ers have been offering support to each other on TikTok while seeking friendships

Health experts have highlighted how Gen Z young people have grown up with social media

Health experts have highlighted how Gen Z young people have grown up with social media

A 15-year-old from London was among those submitting an online appeal for new friends

A 15-year-old from London was among those submitting an online appeal for new friends

The TikTok video included a list of recommendations as she sought out new pals

The TikTok video included a list of recommendations as she sought out new pals

The teenager is among many using TikTok to apply for new friendships, while other accounts encourage people to gather there and try to helpfully connect

The teenager is among many using TikTok to apply for new friendships, while other accounts encourage people to gather there and try to helpfully connect

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‘Older generations may raise their eyebrows, and many did the same when online dating apps became popular given the previous social stigma around lonely hearts ads.

‘No one views dating apps in the same way now – for those who find themselves in a new town or city, finding friends online is a practical way to do it.

‘The idea of meeting new friends in cafes and bars may present as increasingly quaint to Gen Z – it is potentially an “inefficient” way of doing it, not least because of the cost.

Ex-headteacher and Gen Z expert Alex Atherton compared modern-day friendship applications to lonely hearts ads while pinpointing the cost of living's impact on youngsters

Ex-headteacher and Gen Z expert Alex Atherton compared modern-day friendship applications to lonely hearts ads while pinpointing the cost of living’s impact on youngsters

‘Finding places to go which are free or cheap in this day and age is harder, and no one has been hit harder by the cost of living crisis than Gen Z.

‘Loneliness and mental health issues are key issues for this generation. They have been amplified due to the overall reduction in workplace experience.

‘The youngest generation in the workplace worked hard for their stellar academic records and increasingly their income comes from activities such as buying and selling vintage clothes online.

‘While this can be profitable it leads to fewer opportunities to develop soft skills and confidence to strike up friendships in real life.’

Tom Madders, director of communications and campaigns at youth charity YoungMinds, called for more mental health support for youngsters.

He said: ‘More young people than ever are struggling with their mental health and while feeling lonely isn’t itself a mental health problem, it can have a negative impact on mental health.

‘There are many reasons why young people might feel lonely – experiences such as bereavement, moving to a new city or relationship breakdown can all lead to feelings of loneliness.

‘Through social media young people are well-connected, but this can also contribute to loneliness especially if they’re seeing seemingly-perfect lives being presented by other people.

‘Living through a pandemic during key developmental years has also affected mental health, causing anxiety and social isolation.

‘For a young person experiencing loneliness, talking with someone they trust such as a parent or friend can help, and when mental health support is needed it’s vital every young person can access the help they need when they need it.

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‘To make this happen the Government must prioritise young people’s mental health, starting by committing to providing early support hubs in every community so young people can get help without an appointment or a referral.’

Alex Atherton told how 'Gen Z is far more likely to have friends they may never meet having grown up in the smartphone and social media era'

Alex Atherton told how ‘Gen Z is far more likely to have friends they may never meet having grown up in the smartphone and social media era’

Desperate pleas for friendship are posted in response to TikTok profiles promising support

Desperate pleas for friendship are posted in response to TikTok profiles promising support

APrince's Trust study suggested 30 per cent of young people say they don't know how to make new friends and have never felt more alone

APrince’s Trust study suggested 30 per cent of young people say they don’t know how to make new friends and have never felt more alone

The calls for platonic relationships come as Office for National Statistics research suggests people aged between 16 and 29 are twice as likely as over-70s to report feeling lonely often

The calls for platonic relationships come as Office for National Statistics research suggests people aged between 16 and 29 are twice as likely as over-70s to report feeling lonely often

Yet the risks of too much social media use have also been highlighted. 

London family GP Dr Ann Nainan told MailOnline how Gen Z-ers’ preference for talking online instead of meeting people in person ‘has made it harder for them to make real friends – they are the most connected to the internet and gadgets’.

London GP Dr Ann Nainan says of Gen X it is 'harder for them to make real friends'

London GP Dr Ann Nainan says of Gen X it is ‘harder for them to make real friends’

She suggested the pandemic and social distancing had ‘further isolated’ Generation Z, denying them ‘face-to-face interaction’ benefits which can trigger ‘the release of hormones like oxytocin and endorphins’.

She said: ‘When we meet and talk to people face-to-face, our bodies make special chemicals that help us feel happy and trust each other.

‘But when we just text, we don’t get those chemicals, so it’s not the same as really being with someone – texting lacks these biological responses and may not offer the same depth of connection or emotional support.’

A Harvard report described Gen Z as the ‘loneliest generation’, while medics warned loneliness and social isolation can raise the danger of heart attacks and strokes by 30 per cent – putting youngsters most at risk along with the elderly.

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Source: tit.edu.vn

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