Loneliness isn’t new—it’s been around ever since the dawn of humanity. We need companionship—someone to laugh and cry with; someone to share our lives with. In some ways, technology helps us find that connection, but we might also experience increased loneliness due to technology. Teens are especially experiencing this heightened loneliness because of their increased tech use.
Let’s look at why technology makes teens lonely and how to overcome loneliness.
Why is Loneliness Increasing
Thanks to technology like the smartphone, teens today have a greater ability to connect with friends than any generation preceding them, so why is technology making people feel lonely?
- Self isolation. In comparison to teens from the Boomer and Millennial generations, iGeneration teens reportedly go out less, according to one study. The same study records that 50% more high school seniors in 2017 reported feeling lonely than seniors in 2012.
- Fear of missing out. Just like going alone to a party, teens are forced to the sidelines as they are fed pictures of friends living the “ideal” life. They watch others have fun, but they themselves aren’t making any meaningful connections. Though teens have thousands of friends and followers, they wouldn’t even wave to most of those individuals in public, let alone have a personal conversation with them.
- Internet use. Several studies have found a connection between loneliness and technology, specifically Internet use. Excessive internet use has the potential to cause loneliness because of how detached and impersonal it makes communication. A study in 2019 found students were lonelier despite more free time. Although we can’t be sure what every student spent that time on, it’s suspected the increase in digital media consumption might explain the correlating increase in loneliness.
How to Overcome Loneliness
Overcoming loneliness can be challenging, so how can you combat it in your family?
- Communicate. First off, be open with your child and encourage them to do the same. Your child might not exhibit signs of loneliness, so having open communication is vital to helping them.
- Show empathy and give validation. It’s crucial that your child is validated when they share sensitive feelings with you; make sure they know that what they are feeling is normal and real.
- Limit tech use. Because of the connection between loneliness and technology use, consider getting your child a kid-friendly smartphone, such as a phone from Troomi. Because Troomi phones have parental controls (and don’t have social media), they can help regulate the amount of time your child spends on digital media. This gives your child more time to have one-on-one interactions and establish meaningful relationships.
- Encourage socialization. Along with investing in a kid-friendly smartphone, encourage your child to participate in an in-person activity. If in-person activities are discouraged because of health regulations in your area, encourage your child to have group game nights or other activities over Zoom where they can still have face-to-face interactions.
Overcoming loneliness isn’t easy. Loneliness can even be a contributing factor in the development of mental illnesses such as depression and other health issues. But as you talk with your children about their feelings, limit their digital media intake with a kid-friendly smartphone, and encourage them to participate in more face-to-face interactions, your child will feel your loving support and see that they’re not alone! For more information on kid-friendly smartphones and other parenting tips, check out Troomi!