The number of teenagers I see coming through the program in the last few years who have anxiety and/or depression has skyrocketed since I first started running Empower U. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for this is the unprecedented growth in technology. Nowadays, a phone has become an extension of oneself. If we don’t have our phone on us, or nearby, we panic. We worry that we’re missing out on something, or that someone might be trying to contact us. This need to be constantly plugged in must be considered a real concern.
Because of this, I have found that teenagers have become increasingly distracted through social media and the internet, and have stopped simply spending time sitting in their own thoughts. We are hindering our ability to properly connect with the world and people around us. This disconnect has lead to a world where 1 in 5 people will suffer some form of anxiety in their lives. We are no longer present in our lives, no longer sitting in our own thoughts, and no longer spending as much time face-to-face with the people who make us happy.
So, what’s the solution?
The answer is really quite simple.
At all the programs I run, I ask all participants to not check their phones for the duration of the course, which can be anywhere between 1 and 5 days. While it may be a struggle at first, two things always occur. The first thing is that the participants all form much stronger friendships because they don’t have their phones to hide behind. Secondly, there is a sense of freedom that comes from not feeling tied down to a phone, or constantly needing updates from followers or friends. In the end, disconnecting is always a positive thing, and it gives each individual the space to be present and connect with the world and people around them.