well-being as measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness
suddenly decreased amongst students after 2012. This decrease in psychological
well-being and increase in anxiety levels are linked to the advent of
smartphone technology and screen time.
A new study
that involved more than a million American high school students, found that
adolescents who spent more time on screens (e.g., social media, the Internet,
texting, gaming) and less time on non-screen activities, experienced lower
psychological well-being. Adolescents who spend little time on electronic
communication were the happiest.
technology makes teens unhappy, but why? What is it about technology that makes
people unhappy? Psychologist, Dr. Ellen Hendriksen, puts forward five
ways technology exacerbates anxiety in people.
1. Technology insulates us from small
uncertainties, leaving us vulnerable to real-life situations
explains that uncertainty is the root of anxiety. To some degree, technology
takes a lot of the uncertainty away by answering our many questions instantly.
Google maps will take you to your destination directly; if you need to find out
the latest tips to ace a job interview, Google will tell you. You can even
practice interview questions.
So, why are
we still anxious? The thing is, technology provides answers to questions about
things to do, not about life as it happens. Glassdoor can’t really prepare you
for an interview in an unsettling environment, you have to deal with it as it
technology has lessened our experience handling uncertainty, we’re less
prepared to deal with ambiguity when it arises,” explains Hendriksen.
2. Technology allows us to avoid people (and
the negative emotions that go with people)
and apps are absorbing and allow us to avoid other people – we can simply order
a pizza instead of standing in line for one. The only problem is that when we
start to habitually avoid interaction with others in this manner, we forget how
to interact and we lose our confidence.
points out that what we are really avoiding is the uncomfortable emotions that
go with interacting with people, like awkwardness, anxiety, boredom and
self-consciousness. Avoiding these situations means we never get an opportunity
to handle them and grow in maturity.
3. On-screen communication is not the same as
send a text message on our phone or write an email, we have time to compose,
edit, and perfect our communication, whereas face-to-face communication happens
unedited in real-time.
When we’re used
to taking our time to think of exactly what we want to say, it becomes
difficult to respond in a spontaneous way when facing another person. And again,
if we don’t have enough experience of talking to another person, when we have
to, we don’t have the confidence to do it, which makes us anxious.
4. Social media is judgment in public
media is public. Whether you admired or despised, the comments are there for
everyone to see. How damaging that can be we know from a number of very public
suicides, even by children. Social media
is a cruel minefield for young
Hendriksen: “Social anxiety is a fear of being revealed and judged as somehow deficient.
And social media pushes all those buttons perfectly.” So we put a lot of effort
into curating a perfect image of ourselves but in the long run it’s not a
strategy that can stand the test of time. In the end, the gap increases between
what we project and who we actually are and we become anxious about being found
5. The “compare and despair” trap
depicted on social media, can look picture perfect and enviable and it’s hard
not to compare and end up feeling inadequate or inferior, which again, adds up
to social anxiety. You tell yourself that this woman with this perfect body
lounging in the latest designer sofa, also has problems she’d rather the world
doesn’t know about, but still, you’re green with envy. Comparing ourselves to
others always leads to unhappiness.
solution? Don’t let technology rule you. Realize that it’s addictive and that
you can take action to break the cycle. Here
is a good online resource to get you started.
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