Everyday technology fighting loneliness

Mon 1 Jul 2019

Foreward to the Report by Tim Leech, CEO WaveLength

Loneliness is finally gaining more attention. It can cause lower confidence, mood swings, and a loss of interest in life, leading to depression and anxiety. Since 1939, WaveLength has recognised the negative effects of loneliness and the vital part that technology can play in reducing loneliness.

Academic research, alongside our tried and tested approach, is crucial for dealing strategically and effectively with loneliness. Back in 2013, we were the first charity to commission research into our work. We wanted to know whether our gift of technology was having an impact and, most importantly, if it was doing any harm. We were also keen to understand whether our method of working was effective, by developing and testing a Theory of Change. This report shares the second part of this research with the University of York, which looks at the quantitative impacts of our work and our Theory of Change.

The quantitative data shows that technology reduces and mitigates loneliness for the people we helped in a variety of ways. WaveLength’s gift of tablets, televisions, and radios did not cause loneliness itself. In fact, televisions reduced a person’s emotional and social loneliness. People felt healthier as their loneliness decreased.

The report also shows that loneliness could strike at any time. There was no correlation between age, sex, region, and loneliness. Loneliness is universal and so too is the gift of technology as one of the many solutions for fighting it.

Following this research, we set out some policy recommendations, which would enable us to help more people. We look forward to working with partners to turn these recommendations into a reality.

In the meantime, we would like to thank the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, and in particular Professor Martin Webber, for carrying out this research on our behalf.

Learn more about the research

Download the full copy of the report