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Gen.Z Is So Lonely

Generation Z (people born in the years 1997 through 2013) grew up with the rise of social media. We saw how what used to be a social life would start to take place online, with friends, family, and strangers. Many people in Generation Z are in their late teens and mid-twenties right now. With so much access to other people, it’s surprising to hear that generation z is so lonely. Recent studies suggest that “Generation Z” is the loneliest generation ever recorded. Ryan Jenkins wrote an article for “Psychology Today said, “Seventy-three percent of Gen Z report feeling alone either sometimes or always—the highest level of any generation” (Jenkins). The quote shows that most young adults today feel alone in their daily lives. One suggestion is that young adults are more open about mental health than generations before them. Erica Coe, Andrew Doy, Kana Enomoto, and Cheryl Healy authored an article for the McKinsey Health Institute. The article said, “Negative effects are greatest for younger generations. There are pronounced impacts for Gen Zeers who spend more than two hours a day on social media and Gen Xers with poor mental health” (Coe, Doy, Enomoto, and Healy). The quote from the McKinsey Health Institute suggests that social media has a negative effect on young adults and children who spend more than an hour on social media. The problem with Gen.z’s loneliness problem is that there is not one cause. While we can see that social media is one cause, there are other problems to look at. Social media, awareness, and general stress are all considered serious problems for young adults in generation z. The problems are also not easily defined, and they are not found in every person with the same circumstances. What we might find is that added stress from being adults and an increasingly isolated social life make for a lonely generation. Kaitlyn Grelle, Neha Shrestha, Megan Ximenes, Jessica Perrotte, Millie Cordaro, Rebecca Deason, and Krista Deason wrote a study for the “Journal of Adult Development.” “Overall, individuals in the Gen Z and Millennial groups found more negative outcomes for perceived stress, loneliness, the personal distress empathy subscale of the IRI, and all of the subscales of the CIS, which measure fatigue, motivation, physical activity, and concentration (all ps < .05)” (Grelle, Shrestha, Ximenes, Perrotte, Cordaro, Deason, and Deason). The study found that Gen Z and the Millennial generation are having a worse time of dealing with stress both personally and from outside factors while also being lonely. The added stress of adult life in current American culture might be the big problem for Gen. Z. The results from the “Journal of Adult Development” and the information from “Psychology Today” show a trend for young adults. They have more stress and mental health problems than ever before. Between the polarized opinions online and the economic and environmental stress, young adults are having a challenging time in life. What might be an answer is that the struggles are just more visible. With the rise of social media, it is possible that people don’t just feel lonelier, but also more vulnerable. It only seems fair to evaluate this theory. Erica Coe, Andrew Doy, Kana Enomoto, and Cheryl Healy authored an article for the McKinsey Health Institute. The article said that Gen Z is more likely than older generations to report poor mental health. In the United States, 16% of Gen Z responders said their mental health was poor or extremely poor, compared to 7% of baby boomers. This is likely due to several factors, including the increasing prevalence of mental health disorders, the stress of living in a digital age, and the social and political challenges of the past few years' ' (Coe, Doy, Enomoto, and Healy). The McKinsey study shows that the stress of being on social media and an increasingly polarized political landscape is stressful on Gen Z. One article seems to think that the effect of COVID-19 quarantines in 2020 and into 2021 had an impact on younger generations. Matia Vacchiano et al created a study published by the “British Sociological Association”. The study showed, “The younger generations seem to care more about lifestyle and social relationships. This calls for further reflection on the connection these two aspects: how the pandemic has changed leisure, professional routines, and home life, and how this has affected the many resources we get from our relationships for the sake of our mental health” (Vacchiano et al). In conclusion, it seems that the rise of loneliness and mental health in generation Z has a lot of factors. The generation raised online is starting to show problems. Not only does Gen. Z feel desperate for physical social lives, but social media is where that happens. Due to social media and the COVID pandemic, young adults are now realizing just how important it is to have face-to-face relationships. While the rise of mental health is worrying, that seems to be because more people are being open about mental health than ever. The evidence of research might show that the problem is not social media, but how we use it. Time will only tell if Gen. Z can figure out the loneliness problem.


Photo Tkaen by Alpha Photo at Flickr.com

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