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Living in the Age of Teen Loneliness

teen isolation and loneliness

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Our teens live in a world of unparalleled entertainment opportunities, yet they still experience disturbing amounts of teen loneliness. Every cell phone they carry doubles as a computer filled with applications, entertainment, and social media platforms. They can watch movie trailers or go to the movies with their friends. They can indulge in unlimited TV, cable, streaming services, and Pay per View.

The Paradox of Entertainment and Isolation

No previous generation of Americans has had so many unlimited entertainment options. Despite this abundance of entertainment options, however, our teens grapple with significant loneliness and isolation.

As reported in a recent New York Times article, this solitude is giving rise to unprecedented levels of stress, depression, and suicidal ideation among our teenagers. It should go without saying, this issue is now at epidemic proportions.

The Role of Social Media in Teen Loneliness

It is just too easy to blame social media (Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tock, Snapchat), although much of the blame does belong there. Every time you see a teen locked into these programs, they are also withdrawing from their friends, their family, and their schoolmates. How long will these daily withdrawals take to register the feeling of teen loneliness? This consistent withdrawal – whether at the dinner table or during a car ride – steadily exacerbates these negative feelings.

It’s no wonder that almost 50% of high school teens, as per a CDC survey, admitted to contemplating suicide at least once in the past year.

Parental Intervention in the Digital Age

As a parent, what can you do to make a difference?  After all, there is almost no way you are going to take away your teen’s cell phone. 

Creating Cell Phone-Free Zones 

  • Ensure that meals are cell phone-free zones. Encourage everyone to place their phones in a basket, thereby eliminating calls and text messages during this time. This includes anyone not physically present, such as college-going siblings or grandparents. Designate these conversations for pre or post-dinner periods. 

The Importance of Active Listening

  • Utilize this shared mealtime to delve into your teenager’s thoughts and emotions in a judgment-free environment. Enquire about their favorite and least favorite classes and teachers. Ask “why” questions, not just “what” ones. Practice active listening and deep questioning.

Additional Steps Towards Open Communication

  • Adopt the same approach for car rides, making them radio and cell-phone-free zones. Don’t aim to “fix” your teen; instead, learn to listen actively and ask meaningful questions.
  • Establish a weekly walk with your teen, again without cell phones. Replicate the same approach as above – be an attentive listener, non-judgmental, and practice deep questioning.
  • There are great questions that we have created for you at www.abrighterday.info.

Resources for Teens in Crisis

Make sure that you give every teen you come in contact with the Teen Crisis Hotline info. It’s free and works 24/7 in all 50 states. Every teen in America can type BRIGHTER to 741741 and they can speak with a trained counselor for up to 40 minutes every day, free. Of course, there is always counseling you can find online or from your pediatrician for local in-person services. Should your child need in-patient care, see the Evolve information also on the website.

If you feel your teen needs actual counseling, don’t hesitate to set up Zoom Counseling Services using our website, www.abrighterday.info. These sessions are usually $75 to $150 weekly, but we will pick up these costs for three months. That way, no one must choose between feeding their family and seeking help.

Our Mission at A Brighter Day Charity

A Brighter Day Charity, www.abrighterday.info, is here to give you and your teen resources on stress and depression with the goal of stopping teen suicide.  And we do this every day.  Come join our mailing list and our programs and help us make a difference.

All my best,

Elliot Kallen, President

SMALL DONATION, BIG IMPACT.

GIVE 11$ MONTHLY AND CHANGE THE WORLD ONE TEEN AT A TIME.

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