More connected than ever, but lonely IRL. We need to teach Gen Z the power of a digital detox, says guest blogger Efe Ezekiel
Technology has revolutionised the way we live in such incredible ways. Everyday something wonderous and new in tech is available to make life easier and help us feel more connected, from paying by tapping smartphone’s, to tweeting your thoughts to millions of people across continents.
However, within this new age of technology, many young people are suffering from a greater sense of loneliness than ever before as they live their days with a dependency on social media and gaming.
I spend my days as a Youth Mentor. Mentoring is my absolute passion. I teach, learn and observe how different life is for young people, especially now with the great advances in technology and the power of social media.
I have witnessed how amazing tech is as a learning tool, but I have also seen first hand that a dependence on tech can create a feeling of sadness and loneliness among young people who are finding it increasingly hard to navigate the world and its new frontiers. In fact according to the latest reports, Childline revealed that 35,244 counselling sessions on loneliness and unhappiness were held in 2014/15, up 9% on the year before.
Generation Z is finding themselves more isolated and lonelier then ever. Loneliness is becoming an epidemic as many boys are unable to communicate their issues, then stay in their bedrooms for hours on their consoles living in a virtual world and young girls are feeling pressure to live up to the ‘Perfect bodies’ and ideals of womanhood online. Plus, we have seen a sharp rise of cyber bullying so a child has no safe place even at home.
Social media can also be a great distraction from going out and interacting with others because they are constantly checking their social media updates and feeds. This is leaving them very unhappy and unable to communicate effectively or function in the real world. This can also lead to the start of mental health issues: from depression to social isolation. Unconsciously, they are creating personal prisons for themselves.
One of my greatest teachings and philosophies as a youth mentor is to ‘go out and meet people’. Young people can spend days, break-times and most of the time at home clutching their phones, laptops and tablets. I believe and know that the greatest value we have is the face-to-face connection that we make with others. For wellbeing trends in 2016/7 WGSN predicts that we’ll be more focused on taking a step back, reconnecting with ourselves offline and focusing on what really matters to us, I see IRL friendships as an extension of this. I think we have to preserve the prominence of in person social skills and interaction. True connection is being in the company of others and if we are with the right people, our worlds can simply transform for the better in an instance.
There’s power in a digital detox, and never ever forgetting that being ‘social’ is about getting out and experiencing this world…for real.
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