There’s no doubt that mental health issues are dramatically on the rise. But it’s important to investigate the role that modern society and life as we know it today has had on these increases.
While life sometimes seems easier in terms of work, “normal society” has changed dramatically, making it harder on our health psychologically and emotionally. Based on continuing research, these changes are affecting everyone, especially today’s children.
This doesn’t present well for our future.
There are many reasons for these alarming trends, such as:
- Electronic media and social media
- Terrorist events, threats and fear
- Divisive and negative news
- Financial pressure
- Aggressive behaviour (a dramatic rise in child abuse, adult abuse, sexual abuse and bullying etc.)
- Pressure to “perform”
- Sense of entitlement (where everyone believes they are entitled to whatever they want, and whenever and however they want it).
- Inability to relax (including poor or reduced sleep)
These are just some of the modern day factors that contribute to everyday stress and anxiety that we have to contend with. Let’s look at a couple of the more persistent, and common trends in detail.
Is the internet the new way of communicating?
The creation of the internet is the single biggest contributing factor to have shaped modern day society. Ultimately, the future of generations to come will also be affected.
The internet has forever changed the way we live, learn and work. It’s understandable that most of us have become dependent on it to some degree. But when we can’t find a balance between our time on or offline, it can create issues for our mental and emotional well-being.
The 5 types of online addiction
- Accessing explicit subject matter and participating in intimate behaviours online with others
- Gambling or shopping
- Social media, online dating, and other virtual communication
- Browsing or searching
The combination of accessibility, control, and excitement make a person want to continue their online “fix”. Because it is such a common part of our everyday life, users fail to identify any concerning behavioural issues that may develop over time.
Young adults who are addicted to the internet are more likely to have depression and anxiety. They may suffer from substance abuse, compulsive behaviours, sleep disorders, ADHD, anger issues, and/or dissociative experiences.
Additionally, our children are more likely to experience one or all of these issues. They are typically more likely to indulge in social media interaction, conversations and relationships.
As of March this year, a staggering 94% of Australians between the ages of 12 and 24 use some kind of social media, logging on more than 3 times a day. Snapchat and Instagram are at the top of the list for children and young adults between the ages of 12 to 18 years.
As a result, with social media use increasing, this poses many issues with the interactions that children have in real life. They are increasingly failing to develop sufficient communication skills in order to be a successful adult later on in the real world.
How has the internet changed the way we communicate?
The internet has led our children to have fewer face-to-face interactions with the people that they associate with. These days, the majority of adolescents have access to social media at any time they want via their smartphones. Several studies have shown that being online plays a significant role in young adults becoming more antisocial and disassociated than ever before.
With instant gratification literally at their fingertips, this new “common” behaviour has resulted in “the age of entitlement”. This has inched its way into the very real outside worlds of our youth of today. Waiting can be really hard, and when young adults don’t get what they want, when they want it, the psychological reaction is anger and/or anxiety.
The increasing pressure to be perfect
Almost everyone, while growing up, is riddled with insecurities, and worry that they don’t measure up. This is especially prevalent in today’s adolescents.
It’s easy for adults to ask the question “what is wrong with kids these days?”. It’s possible that this difficult period of life has gotten even harder in more recent years. The irrational desire to be perfect has increased in young people dramatically compared to how those of the same age felt within the last 20 years.
And today’s youth are pretty judgemental of others as well. Imposing unrealistic standards on the people around them and evaluating others critically, has also had a dramatic increase.
Social media and how it effects our children
One of the biggest factors that separates today’s young adults from those of previous generations, is the existence of social media. It’s likely been influential in our children’s lives since the beginning of high school.
Those of us growing up 15 or 20 years ago may have had to deal with images on television or in magazines telling us how to look and live. The children of today have to deal with seeing it 24/7.
Perhaps even more damaging, social media is constantly forcing young people to compare themselves with others. Most commonly in terms of numbers of followers, likes, and images of themselves on countless apps.
The comparisons don’t end with models or celebrities. They also apply to their group of friends, constantly posting “selfies” with a myriad of different filters to achieve that standard of “perfection”.
Young people have always enjoyed a “healthy” sense of competition, however the inability to achieve the impossible task of being “flawless” leaves them feeling empty as they strive for the unattainable. Emotional responses may include insecurity, envy, worthlessness, anger, and the need to bully or insult others in order to alleviate their own self-esteem.
For a more in-depth look at social media and how it might affect your children, see here.
How do we deal with society today and it’s everyday challenges?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any easy solutions. What is necessary is a complete reassessment about the many contributing factors of society today and then adopting healthy change.
So, the best we can do is seek mental health support from available resources, and work at making families healthy, one person at a time.
Everybody understands how the pressures of everyday life can affect us, psychologically and emotionally. Trying to keep up with common demands of society can be taxing and sometimes can get on top of us.
If you would like to talk to somebody who understands, and is experienced in finding solutions for depression, anxiety, or other problematic issues, then call and make an appointment to speak to one of our health professionals at counselling@voxen.