Updated: Apr 19
Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z was raised in a world where internet access, smartphones, and social media are staples in daily life. With the increasing prevalence of these digital experiences, it's essential to study how they impact the mental health of Gen Z.
Let us explore in this blog the pros and cons of digital experiences and provide practical tips for a healthier online life.
Source: Cielo Treatment Center
How Does Technology Affect Gen Z Mental Health?
Gen Z is a digital-native generation that has grown up with technology.
In the United States alone, the Gen Z population spends an average of over 7 hours per day on screens, according to a report by Los Angeles Times. This includes time spent on smartphones, tablets, computers, and other digital devices.
Social media is widely regarded as the most popular digital experience among Gen Z individuals. In fact, Pew Research Center found that 88% of young adults in the country are on social media. Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are the most popular platforms among this age group.
Online gaming is another favored digital experience among Gen Z. The popularity of online gaming has grown even more during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people have turned to games as a way to connect with others while physically distancing themselves.
While digital experiences can provide many benefits, such as rapid information access and easy communication with friends and family, they can also adversely affect mental health.
Studies have linked social media use to elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among individuals belonging to Gen Z. Online gaming addiction can also have adverse effects on mental health and well-being.
How Digital Experiences Revolutionize Teen Mental Health
While digital experiences can have adverse effects on mental health, they can also have a positive impact. This includes:
Increased access to mental health resources
Digital experiences have improved the availability of mental health resources for Gen Z individuals.
Online therapy and counseling services have become increasingly popular and accessible, enabling individuals to receive mental health support from the convenience of their own homes.
Mental health apps, such as Headspace and Calm, offer mindfulness and meditation exercises that effectively reduce stress and anxiety.
Supportive online communities and social connections
Digital experiences have also created supportive online communities and social connections. Social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, have become a source of support for individuals who may feel isolated in their everyday lives.
Online support groups and forums provide a place for individuals to share their experiences and connect with others facing similar challenges.
Tools for self-care and stress management
Digital experiences have also revolutionized self-care and stress management. Various apps and websites offer tools and resources to help individuals manage stress and take care of their mental health.
For example, the app Pacifica offers mood and health tracking, relaxation exercises, and cognitive-behavioral therapy tools. HelpGuide provides articles and resources on stress management, healthy eating, and other self-care practices.
The Threats of Digital Experiences on Youth Mental Health
Generation Z is facing unique challenges when it comes to mental health and one of the culprits is digital media. Several factors contribute to this generation's high rates of mental health issues. Such factors include:
Cyberbullying with social media and its effects on mental well-being
Growing up in a digital world has made Gen Z particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying. According to research by the Cyberbullying Research Center, more than 59% of Gen Z teens have experienced cyberbullying. The effects of cyberbullying can be devastating, resulting in depression, anxiety, and decreased self-esteem.
Addiction to digital devices and its impact on mental health
Gen Z has also been dubbed the "screen generation" due to their heavy use of digital devices. Studies have shown that excessive use of digital devices can lead to increased risks of anxiety, depression, and social isolation.
Social media and the rise of anxiety and depression among Gen Z
Social media has become pervasive in Gen Z's lives, with 94% of Gen Z using social media daily. However, social media has been linked to increased anxiety and depression among Gen Z.
Social media platforms often present an idealized version of people's lives, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, especially among youth. The constant comparison to others and pressure to present a particular image on social media can also contribute to increased stress and anxiety levels.
Strategies For Mitigating The Negative Impact of Digital Experiences
While digital experiences have their benefits, they can also hurt mental health. Fortunately, several strategies can help mitigate these adverse effects and promote healthy digital habits.
Developing healthy digital habits and boundaries
Practicing healthy digital habits and setting boundaries can help protect your mental health. This includes setting limits on digital device use, establishing screen-free times and zones, and avoiding using digital devices before bed.
It's also important to take breaks from digital devices regularly and engage in offline activities, such as exercise, hobbies, and socializing with friends and family.
Promoting digital literacy and critical thinking skills
Promoting digital literacy can help the youth navigate the online world more effectively and avoid the adverse effects of digital experiences. This includes teaching youth to evaluate the credibility of online sources, recognize and avoid online scams and phishing attempts, and use digital devices responsibly and ethically.
Encouraging face-to-face interactions and offline activities
Encouraging face-to-face interactions and offline activities can help mitigate the negative impact of digital experiences on mental health. This includes participating in social activities, such as sports, clubs, and community events, and spending time with friends and family.
Face-to-face interactions can help promote feelings of connection and reduce the feelings of social isolation that can arise from excessive use of digital devices.
Source: Cielo Treatment Center
Digital experiences have revolutionized how Gen Z individuals interact with the world around them. While these experiences offer numerous benefits, they also threaten youth mental health.
By recognizing the risks of excessive digital device use and promoting healthy habits and critical thinking skills, we can help mitigate these threats and create a healthier digital landscape for young people.
If you know someone in need of a young adult mental health treatment program, Cielo Treatment Center can help. Our top-notch mental health and addiction treatment center offers personalized care and evidence-based treatment options to help young adults achieve lasting recovery and live fulfilling lives.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you or your loved one on the road to recovery.