Reports claim and parents was concern that teens are suffering an epidemic of loneliness caused by social media. What is really going on?
To the average concerned adult, the outbreak of teenage loneliness currently sweeping the land is exemplified by a lone teen, likely dressed in black, school marks plummeting, lifeless eyes glued to Snapchat or some other social media site, mind unhinged by online porn, aspirations nil.
The bit about Snapchat might be true. The remainder, though, are questionable stereotypes, extrapolated into facts. First, the epidemic, widely reported in the media over recent months. In January, MPs launched the loneliness committee, which had initially been set up by Jo Cox, the MP who was murdered in June 2016. Soon after, the counselling service Relate released figures is recommended that todays teens are the loneliest generation yet a finding that a recent report by Londons Kings College seems to support.
But a closer look at such studies immediately exposes inconsistencies. The Jo Cox committee applies across all age groups, and its findings are still a long way off. Meanwhile, the Relate survey of teenagers encompassed 16 – to 24 -year-olds ie, only three years of teendom. Kingss poll shows that 62% of the 1,000 adolescents questioned said they sometimes feel lonely; to which one obvious answer is: who doesnt? Childline says it received 3,000 calls from children asking for attorney between April 2016 and January 2017, but those figures look confounding when compared to a similar examine by the same organisation in 2015/16, which revealed that 19,481 contacts were made by young people who were struggling with thoughts of aiming their own lives more than double the number in the previous five years.
More confusing still are findings by the Mental Health Foundation it identifies 18 – to 35 -year-olds , not teenagers, as the age group most likely to struggle with loneliness. Other, more robust analyzes do indeed indicate very strongly that teens are fighting( for instance, between 2009 and 2016, the number of children and young people coming to A& E with psychiatric conditions more than doubled; in the past four years, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorder virtually doubled, too ). But is loneliness the root cause?
The problem begins with a mismatch between adult perception and teenage reality. Seventeen-year-old Maelo Manning, who started her politics blog, Libdemchild, when she was 10, thinks it has something to do with an air of animosity of teenagers. Even millennials judge us to be complacent layabouts who dont work hard. Nineteen-year-old Toni McMillan, who has put up her own online campaign fighting for equal work opportunities for teens, says some employers think young people are a nuisance or a liability. Most of us merely want a chance to prove what we can do. Not having a job can be quite a lonely experience. The constant rejection builds you wonder if youll ever be given the opportunity.
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