Teen Years

Research reveals young teens have less friends than a decade ago

New research has found that young teenagers have less friends now than a decade ago. 

The study was published by the Economic and Social Research Institute in partnership with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

The report looks into how the lives of 13-year-olds have changed over the past 10 years in terms of friendships, relationships with family members and day-to-day activities.

The research is drawn on data from the Growing Up in Ireland study, which compares 13-year-olds from 2011 and 2012 to children of the same age in 2021 and 2022. 

It was discovered that young teens report having smaller friendship groups than they did in the past. 

53% of teenagers have three or fewer close friends compared with 41% 10 years previously. 

The study also found that mums are more likely to report that 13-year-olds experience problems when interacting with peers. 

Another part of the research revealed that young teens have better relationships with their parents as mums and dad reported much lower levels of conflict with their children over time. 

Mums were found to be more responsive to the needs of young people than they were in the past. 

When it comes to discussing their behaviour, parents are now more likely to explain what their teenager has done wrong – 63% compared with 49% – and less likely to use punitive punishments. 

These punitive approaches include grounding their child – 69% compared with 59% never doing so – or shouting at their teen – 41% compared with 28% never doing so. 

The author of this report, Dr Emer Smyth stated, “There are very encouraging findings of better-quality relationships between teenagers and their parents, with less conflict and greater discussion. However, financial pressures continue to be a source of friction in families”.

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