Social Media could be to blame for increasing isolation among young people
The generation of millennials aged between 23 – 38 years old may be suffering from loneliness more than any other generation as a YouGov poll revealed 22% said they have no friends.
The survey also showed that less than 1/3 of millennials say they have at least ten friends.
The New York Daily News reported that even if younger Americans are overstating their isolation, the jarring numbers reflect long-term rising trends in loneliness. Studies have indicated that loneliness has myriad adverse mental and physical health effects.
“Strong social relationships support mental health, and that ties into a better immune function, reduced stress, and less cardiovascular activation,” Professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Debra Umberson, said.
A further 25% of Millennials surveyed admitted they don’t have any acquaintances.
The generation of millennials are increasingly relying on Social Media for interactions with ‘friends,’ but could this be to blame?
According to a report from Psycom:
A survey of 20,000 Americans sponsored by The Cigna Health Insurance Company, revealed loneliness is at epidemic proportions.
And if you have a mental illness, the odds are that feeling lonely and disconnected from others is a factor in your depression and/or anxiety.
But how can you feel disconnected from others when you are consistently able to be connected through social media?
The answer is complicated.
According to Vox, many people int heir thirties find it difficult making friends as they get older, as their lives become busier and friends move away.
In 2016, researchers in Germany found loneliness peaked in a sample of 16,000 Germans at around age 30, then around age 50, increasing at age 80.
Maike Luhmann, a psychologist who researched loneliness at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and co-authored the paper told Vox:
“We don’t quite know why this is happening.”
“So most of the previous research has focused on old age, and for good reason because it’s when loneliness levels are high,” said Luhmann.
He also added that “researchers have ignored that loneliness can happen at any time.”
Is loneliness a health hazard?
A 2015 meta-review of 70 studies showed loneliness links to higher blood pressure and heart disease, and the risk of dying increases by 26%.
“As long as we then do what we should do — reconnect with people — then loneliness is a good thing,” said Luhmann.
“It becomes a bad thing when it becomes chronic. That’s when the health effects kick in. And it becomes harder and harder to connect with other people the longer you are in the state of loneliness.”
It could be more evidence of the dangers of social media giving the illusion of ‘being connected,’ when, in fact, you are just starring at a pixelated screen not speaking to anyone.
$12 avocado toast anyone?