Loneliness in young people is increasing even as they’re more connected to the world, according to new figures.

Charity Childline said there was a 37 per cent rise in counselling sessions for children in Scotland reporting being isolated and lonely.

West Dunbartonshire youth group manager Gillian Kirkwood, of Y Sort It, said the figures were “not a surprise”.

She told the Reporter: “We are basing a lot of things online rather than opportunities on our own doorsteps.

“You can have access to a lot of people but still be lonely. It’s a growing issue.

“Loneliness can affect anyone at any age. We have to ensure young people are included and that there are opportunities for young people and families to take part in activities to combat loneliness.”

Childline said their NSPCC-supported service saw counselling sessions for loneliness increase from 199 to 272 last year.

Their Glasgow base took 817 calls from children around the UK who were feeling lonely, up from 693.

There was a total rise of 14 per cent in the number of calls in the UK, with the youngest being aged 10.

Leanne Ferries, a Childline service manager, said: “These Childline figures show that although we might not think of loneliness as something that affects young people, children are increasingly seeking support from our counsellors about feeling alone and isolated.”

Dame Esther Rantzen, Childline founder, added: “Loneliness needs to be taken seriously because it is potentially damaging to children’s physical and mental health. The crucial question is what is causing this rise.

“Are we all too busy to make time for our children? Or is it the illusion created by social networks that everyone else is liked, popular and enjoying a far more exciting life so they feel lonelier.