While likes on social media represent how popular we are, it does nothing to fill the void in connection with other humans.
Our kids are now suffering from loneliness while in the midst of our social media phenomena. Higher numbers of them are experiencing depression as their natural ability to connect is being eliminated.
How do we encourage and teach our youth that social media is only one form of connection?
Talking and personal connection with others are a necessary form of evolution for all human beings. It allows us to escape that feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness causes us to exhibit social stress and depression which leads us to go on-line to fill that void. This then leads us to become even more isolated, less engaged and ultimately create superficial dissatisfying disconnects away from the real world. Hence deeper loneliness, depression and disconnect occurs.
Human beings are designed to communicate, and devices are now evolving as the preferred method for conversations, news and interactions. We are yet to understand the ramifications of this social media and texting lifestyle our kids are developing.
What we are discovering, however, is the fact that devices are causing a disconnect. They are creating a generation of loneliness and depression not yet seen before in this age group or, in these numbers.
Communication is done partly by words, yet the majority is via verbal tone and body language.
These last two parts of our necessary communication are missing from many millennials. It is suggested they may even lose the ability to communicate deeply, to open up to someone in person, even lose the ability to read body language, faces and tonality.
Yes, we all want our kids off their devices, but parents often struggle how. Once parents, and kids, understand the necessity to develop communication skills they will need for life, then that may be able to understand how speaking both individually and in a group situation is such a needed part of human evolution and development.
Tips for our youth, and for parents, to learn how to connect humanly with others:
1. Make a phone call instead of always texting
It is faster, more direct and the other person can detect excitement, sadness, frustration or happiness in your voice.
2. Devices off at the dinner table
Dinner time is not only a time to eat and share a meal it is their time to communicate, exchange and share information. Talking about your day, your hopes, excitement, fears, plans are all often done over a meal. No devices ever at the table, please.
3. Family eat together
While devices should be left away from the table, it is equally important to have a family meal together each day. This may be breakfast, lunch or dinner; it doesn’t matter. The family to sit down together, to catch up, talk, laughs sends the best most positive message to everyone, especially the kids.
4. Arrange more social activities to connect
Don’t assume your child won’t be interested in doing things with you. Sure they may say this yet if you enquire what it is they may enjoy doing, participate as a family, this way you can often get them interested and involved. It may be outside your comfort zone, perhaps paintball, trampolining, beach day, canoeing, bowling, anything really. Enjoy activities with your kids and ensure it is device free for a while at least.
Have a regular conversation with your kids and within your family. Talk to their friends briefly when they come around. Questioning is not appreciated but discussions and sharing is often welcome. Use the time to comment on something happening in the world, get their opinion, value their opinion. Comment on their cool outfit or where they recently went. Just general ‘stuff’ is far better than questioning them.
Our kids need guidance, be their guide.