Dawn Snape, the assistant director of the ONS sustainability and inequalities division, said: “Younger people were generally more optimistic about lockdown, with more than half expecting life to return to normal within six months.
“One of their biggest worries was the impact on schools and universities – in particular being unable to attend them, the quality of their education and uncertainty around exams.
“While they were more optimistic, young people were much more likely to report being bored and lonely during the lockdown period, and 42 per cent of them reported that it was making their mental health worse. They turned to TV, friends and family and exercise to help them cope during this time.”
Young people were also much more likely than older respondents to say the lockdown was making their mental health worse.
Last week, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said he hoped all students would be able to return to schools in September.
However, charities and education professionals have warned that may be too late and that the delay in receiving face-to-face education is having a lasting impact on their well-being.
Responding to the data, Richard Crellin, policy manager at The Children’s Society, said the figures “lay bare the devastating impact that being unable to attend school and college is having on young adults”.
He added: “This is causing worry for young people, not only about their ability to learn now, but also about their plans for the future. It is harming their well-being at a time when they are already more likely to be lonely and to report bigger impacts on their mental health than older people.
“We don’t know how children under 16 are feeling, because the Government does not properly measure their well-being as it does for over-16s – but it is clearly a major concern that they are also being hit hard right now and could suffer long-term consequences.”
The ONS figures cover the period April 3 to May 10 and are based on responses to its regular opinions and lifestyle survey in Britain.
The body analysed responses from 6,400 adults, including 740 aged 16 to 29. Around two-thirds of this age group who were worried about coronavirus said their well-being had been affected.
Using three measures of well-being – life satisfaction, feelings that things done in life are worthwhile and happiness – young people reported much lower scores on average than those aged 60 and over.