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.

Y Sort It manager Gillian Kirkwood said the figures were not a surprise.

The Clydebank youth charity boss told the Post: “I’m not surprised by the rise. 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.

Girls received almost 80 per cent of sessions, said the charity, with some pointing to the harmful effects of social media use and how comparing themselves to others online or watching people they thought were friends socialise without them made them feel increasingly isolated.

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.”

Childline founder, Dame Esther Rantzen, 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 among the young?

“Are we all too busy to make space and time for our children? Is it that we have lost the habit of eating together? 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 than ever?

“Whatever the reason it’s crucial that young people know they can always contact Childline to speak to someone who will listen and care about them.”

The NSPCC said parents can work with their children to open up to them, but can also encourage them to contact Childline for free and confidential support anytime on 0800 1111, childline.org.uk or by downloading the “For Me” app from the app store.