Looking at the Phone

La Voz de Galicia – April 19, 2024 →

Cristina PatoI read this week that six out of ten people in Spain have experienced some mental health problem in the last three years, and that the highest percentage is among people between 18 and 36 years old. I also listened to a podcast where the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talked about the increase in anxiety and depression among American youth. Haidt, a professor and researcher at New York University who has just published the book The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, relates this rise to the use of social media, and according to his studies, girls between the ages of ten and fourteen are the ones suffering the most, tripling the previous rate.

There are many theories about the relationship between mental health and social media, but as Haidt said, part of the problem is also that «we are never fully present in the physical world» because we are «partially online.» But there are days when even though one knows that one has to completely disconnect from that parallel world, an invisible force makes us decide every now and then to pick up the phone for nothing more than to see what happened in the last five minutes. And then, unintentionally, we enter another spiral where we let ourselves be carried away by what the social networks want from us, and not by what we want from the networks, and without realizing it, we end up as we didn’t want to: looking at the phone during sunset, looking at the phone when we are with our loved ones, looking at the phone when we read a book… And, while we look at the phone, life goes by, inside and around us.

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