Excerpt from this article:
The authors also note that, as loneliness decreased, what they call “social network isolation” — measured by students’ responses to the statements “There is always someone I can turn to if I need help” and “I usually have a few friends around I can get together with” — actually increased. In other words, though students in 2012 may have felt less lonely than they did in 1991, they were also more likely to feel that they didn’t necessarily have someone to rely on.
If teens are more socially isolated than they used to be, at least by these measures, why isn’t it bothering them more? Dr. Clark told Op-Talk in an email that people might see less need for friendship than they used to: “Worse social networks may not have produced an increase in the experience of loneliness because people are more self-sufficient.” Today, he said: “People may feel like they do not need to rely on people as much as previously. People can choose more aspects of their life, including what job to choose, where to live, and who to marry. Labor specialization could lead to a focus on the individual.”