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Why Gen Z Is the Loneliest Generation…Ever?

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Why is each generation lonelier than the one that came before it?

TEACHERS: Guide your students to practice civil discourse about current topics and get practice writing CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) responses. Explore lesson supports.

What’s the psychology behind loneliness?

The same neural networks that fire when you are in physical pain fire when you’re lonely. So loneliness IS painful. There’s an evolutionary reason behind this. For thousands of years, humans lived the hunter-gatherer lifestyle in small groups. Cooperation and communication were crucial to staying alive. The feeling of loneliness is a type of social pain. It’s the brain’s warning system telling you, “Bruh! Get back with your tribe!”

Why is Gen Z considered the loneliest generation?

For Gen Z, there was a big loneliness spike between 2012 and 2018. During that time period, almost twice as many high school students worldwide reported feeling lonely compared to the previous decade. That’s a pretty massive increase in a short period of time. A leading theory to explain this is that 2012 was the first year when more than 50 percent of Americans had access to a smartphone and the use of social media platforms reached critical mass.


How does social media impact mental health?

So you had this perfect storm of 2 new, huge cultural things that constantly demanded our attention 24-7. And it spread all over the globe. People — especially young people — started spending less time interacting in person and MORE time using digital media. And a lot of times, that doesn’t satisfy the in-person connections that our brains are hungry for.

How do you deal with loneliness and fight against it?

Trying to reach out to people after a bout of loneliness can be tough. It can bring on feelings of anxiety and depression because stepping out of your comfort zone can feel threatening. But it’s important to fight through it. Working on the connections we already have with the people around us is important. Connecting with these people in a real, authentic way is KEY to getting out of the loneliness trap. And sometimes, that requires us to connect with new people. People outside our “tribe”. So like, volunteering somewhere, or picking up a new sport, or starting a new hobby — anything that can get us in the room with people to connect with.


The Loneliness Pandemic (Harvard Magazine)

Teens have less face time with their friends – and are lonelier than ever (The Conversation)

Toward a Neurology of Loneliness (Psychological Bulletin)

Teens around the world are lonelier than a decade ago (Washington Post)

Worldwide increases in adolescent loneliness (Journal of Adolescence)

Digital natives’ coping with loneliness: Facebook or face-to-face? (Information & Management)

Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index 

Loneliness And The Workplace (Cigna)

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