We are all for the most part guilty of staring at our phone screens rather than engaging in verbal conversation. Imagine going out to eat with your friends who you haven’t seen in forever and you have been saving the date for a while now; you finally show up and begin to chat with them before there phone lights up. They excuse themselves to send a quick text before they become more invested in their phone conversation than with you. Instead of engaging face, to face you begin to give halfhearted responses to each other before you give up and relinquish yourself back to checking the same social media posts you saw a half hour before showing up. While being a bit dramatic, it still serves to demonstrate that with the overabundance of technology that has been ingrained into todays social structure, it serves as a hinderance for those who are actively seeking to be more social.
In a study done by the Cigna Health Insurance company of a survey of 20,000 Americans, 46 percent of them reported feelings of being always or sometimes lonely. However, they further documented that how long people spend online also contributes to feelings of loneliness. They say that users who access social media more than fifty times a week are three times as likely to develop feelings of social isolation than users who accessed social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat less than nine times per week.
This is most likely due to the fact that we choose to obsess over documenting our lives rather than live in the moment. Seeing people around you have a better time than you or those who might possess more of a certain trait than you can make you feel inadequate. While most people can realize that people choose to share momentous or joyous moments of their lives to the world, low self esteem users would become trapped in the minefield of social media with triggers surrounding them.
Loneliness can be severely life-altering – even life-threatening – for those who experience it. Linked with psychological problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders and depression, the devastating effects of loneliness cannot be overstated. There is also much evidence to suggest that loneliness causes biological problems as well as psychological ones, and can even lead to death.
According to figures published in the Independent, an analysis of 300,000 people in 148 studies found that loneliness is associated with a 50% increase in mortality from any cause. In other words, no matter the ailment a person may be suffering with, isolation makes it worse and renders it harder to recover from the condition. In these terms, the analysis concluded, loneliness may be considered comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and more dangerous than obesity.
To combat the negative impacts of loneliness, people need real, in-person interactions, the authors of the Cigna study say. However, the more we rely upon technology – both at home and in the workplace – to socialize, complete daily tasks and perform work duties, the less time we spend meeting face-to-face with our friends, family, and co-workers, leading us once again to the question: Does technology make us more alone?
While different studies reveal slightly different statistics, the overall trend is clear – we are indeed addicted to technology, and social media use, in particular, has skyrocketed over recent years. One report last year from GlobalWebIndex estimates that digital consumers are now spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networks and messaging services. Young people (16-24-year-olds) spend even more time, clocking up about 3 hours per day.
A separate report reveals that when we factor in all media technology – TV, computers, radio, smartphones, tablets – US adults are spending 10-and-a-half-hours every single day consuming media. That’s 10-and-a-half hours out of every 24 zoned into a screen, not talking to anybody, not socializing, engrossed in other people’s lives instead of living our own.
But what can we do about this? Is there no possible solution for this wide epidemic of “social media attraction” to get our teens to be more effective in communicating and developing social skills that are needed for their future lives and careers? The answer is yes, there is a solution to this.
What teens and parents can do is limit the time that their children use their smartphones for. Find ways for them interact with other people and siblings, have interesting and effective talks with new people, be friendly and open-minded and be up to listening what other people have to say. Go outside and spend an afternoon playing a sport and exercising for a much healthier life. Spend sometimes outdoors with your friends playing and talking. These are some of the many solution for a better and more effective teen that will develop the skills needed in order to approach the real world.