Just one good friend can be enough to help teenagers from tough backgrounds overcome their problems, say psychologists.

London - They say there’s no greater happiness than having children. But if research is to be believed, the truth is rather less optimistic.

Spending time with your nearest and dearest makes us far less happy than being with our friends, according to a survey.

In fact, researchers found only the company of work colleagues and clients is more depressing.

Researchers at the London School of Economics collated data from smartphone users who used an app to log their levels of happiness over a three-year period.

The Mapiness app, designed by academic George MacKerron with the LSE, works by sending alerts to users at random intervals, asking them how happy and relaxed they were feeling at that moment, what they were doing and who they were with. Around 50 000 people have downloaded the app, logging three million responses.

On average, respondents’ moods improved by more than eight percent when they were with friends, but this fell to 5.9 percent when with their partners.

And happiness levels rose by just 1.4 percent when with their children - less than walking, going to the library and drinking alcohol.

This result was only slightly higher than the 0.7 percent improvement in mood when they were with clients or customers at work.

The results surprised those who took part. Rachael Gaunt, 49, an architect from St Ives in Cornwall, said: “The results were not as I expected, as they suggested I was happiest when alone and outdoors, which does not typically represent the life of a full-time working architect, mother of two young boys and generally busy person.” - Daily Mail