Only depressing news coming out from the Children’s Society’s “Good Childhood Inquiry” – and I mean that fairly literally.
The Guardian reports evidence submitted to the Inquiry by the Nuffield Foundation, which compares a 1986 survey of 16-year olds with a group the same age in 2006. It found that the proportion who say they have no best friend has climbed from 13% to 18% in that time. A wide range of research has linked friendhsip to children’s happiness. (News story here). The 2006 sample size was 700, which suggests that the change is outside of the bounds of possible sample error.
Meanwhile the Ecologist news service reports that a survey of adults done for the Inquiry found that 43% would not let their children play outside unsupervised until they were 14. (Sample sixe: 1148). Unsupervised play is one of the ways in which children are able to develop their own freindships.