Loneliness & Depression | Understanding Today’s Teens in a Virtual World

Understanding Today’s Teens in a Virtual World

Times are changing, aren’t they?

It seems that no matter where we look, technology appears to be taking over our lives. See for yourself. Next time you are out in public, look around you. How many people do you see on their phones? And, man, I get it. Being on our phones, with access to the world, celebrities, and all kinds of games and apps that distract us from reality, can be very appealing.

Thing is, we all want to belong. Being active on social media, watching television (yes, there are still people out there who watch TV), or using any other sort of virtual platform usually gives us a sense of belonging.

Always connected = feelings of loneliness & depression

Technology allows us to feel more connected to people and keep up with the latest trends. What’s even better is knowing that technology allows us to receive instant gratification through likes and retweets. Let’s be real for a moment, who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of attention and admiration from our peers?

Ironically, there is an overwhelming amount of research suggesting that an increase in social media use is correlated with an increase in depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness.

The Stats

A 2016 study published in Computers and Online Behavior found that the use of multiple social media platforms is associated with an increase in symptoms of depression and anxiety among young adults. Approximately 1,700 young adults were asked about their use of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. The findings suggest that those who reported using 7-11 of these platforms where more than 3 times more likely to experience feelings of depression and anxiety than those who reported using 0-2 of said platforms.

Yikes—does this sound familiar to you? If so, you’re not alone. According to Facebook CFO, David Wehner, the social network giant is increasingly adding more users, closing in at almost 2 BILLION active users by the end of 2016. To put this into perspective, imagine approximately one quarter of the global population using Facebook. Note that this number does not include the millions of users of other platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter.

Now what?

So, why am I telling you all this? Because despite what anyone says, being a teenager is hard. Adolescence is a time where you learn a lot about yourself: your likes, dislikes, strengths, areas of growth, passions, needs, morals, etc. As teens, we also begin to care more about what our peers think of us.

Additionally, as you grow older, you will probably also get a better sense of how you view yourself, others, and the future. Take a moment to think about this…

Are you satisfied with the person you are becoming?

Are you confident in yourself? Your future?

Are others trustworthy?

These questions may be difficult to answer and, throughout adolescence, the answers to these questions will be put to the test. High school, for instance, is a good example of a place where your perceptions might be challenged depending on what your environment is like at school—is it a supportive environment? Are you being bullied? Do you feel lonely?

Our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the future are likely to continue changing as we grow older. However, as a teen, self-esteem (a.k.a the ways in which we view ourselves) is something that seems to have a greater impact on our well-being. Rest assured that this is something that we all experience at some point in our teenage years and also later in life—our self-esteem will sometimes increase, and other times plummet. However, as discussed earlier, advancements like social media may make it more difficult to establish a positive sense of self.

So, put your phones down for a minute, take a break from technology, and get to know yourselves a bit better because—as cliché as this may sound—self-love is the most important love there is.

If you’re ready to embark on the journey toward self-love and/or if you’re struggling with distressing feelings that are affecting your self-esteem, please call 416-531-0727 to book an appointment with me.

 

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