- People may now stay in touch with friends and family and fight loneliness and isolation thanks to the Internet.
- Loneliness and disconnection are seen to rise as technology replaces face-to-face interactions.
- Technology addiction could eventually hurt users and lead to social isolation in real life.
In France, a family member just developed COVID-19. When words of concern were sent, he replied, “At least I have good WIFI while recovering.”
When the pandemic was at its worst, networking was more important than ever. With our family and friends, we texted, talked on the phone, and zoomed. For the majority of us, this was a novel experience, but we conducted online “happy hours” and scheduled our doctor appointments. A lifeline was supplied through technology.
Those who could thankfully use technology to stay in touch with family and friends as in-person gatherings became risky (Geirdal et al., 2021). We were rescued from total isolation by social media.
Many people have been reluctant to re-emerge and re-engage in the “real” world since those trying times. We continue to feel uneasy around a lot of people. We continue to be cautious and worried about our health, which causes us to occasionally cling to our online lives or cocoon in our houses.
We wonder: How much internet use is too much now that civic life is returning? People have felt more alone and isolated for a long time, according to social science study. In many ways, pandemic responses intended to control a health emergency have exacerbated a mental health emergency: the loneliness epidemic. 36 percent of Americans, according to survey data, experience loneliness frequently. The numbers are frequently significantly higher for senior citizens.
Social media has evolved into a compulsive cure-all for some people who need connection. Problematic internet use was a concern for some people even before the outbreak. Along with excessive use of social media, smartphones, or video games, excessive internet use is just one example of a variety of technology addictions.
Like other types of behaviour compulsion, technology compulsion can result in compulsive thought and behaviour as well as anxious sensations when disconnected. Technology addiction may result in over-dependence on and excessive participation with online platforms, as well as ruminations over one’s online interactions and relationships.
It has been discovered that substituting technology for real-world interactions increases loneliness and detachment and lowers wellbeing. While it is beneficial to enhance in-person interactions with internet connectedness, relationships that are maintained mainly online inevitably fall short.
Even while a variety of technologies can connect people and support social connections in difficult situations like the COVID-19 outbreak (Gioia et al., 2021), a compulsion may ultimately be harmful to users and lead to social isolation in the actual world.
High social media usage is associated with a decline in favourable mental health outcomes, particularly emotions of wellbeing. On the other side, if someone uses the Internet while still feeling in control of it, it may be a beneficial and useful tool. According to research by Hunt et al. (2018), practising moderation by limiting and keeping an eye on social media use is linked to improved mental health and lower levels of anxiety and sadness.
A successful approach to fend off loneliness and assist people in managing stress and anxiety may involve exercising self-control and self-monitoring technology use. Unfortunately, it is frequently simpler to say than to do. While a break from the internet can cause anxiety and a sense of loss, heavy internet users may see their addiction as a minor problem.
Age and Technology Compulsion:
In the past, older folks have been among the least frequent internet users. not having been “digital natives.” The digital gap has been around for a while. The computerization of life has caused many older persons to feel uneasy and reluctant (McDonough, 2016). The usage of social media by older individuals has surged recently, especially during the epidemic. Unquestionably, the Internet is necessary, but Meshi et al. (2020) ask how much social media use is healthy.
Twelve older persons from various backgrounds who walked three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes were asked to select the top five advantages of walking outside as part of an ongoing experiment that examines the advantages of spending time in natural settings.
One of the biggest advantages, according to 11 of the 12, was turning off their devices “for a while.” How can we assist folks who unconsciously go for their phones in search of validation and connection if these responses point to the need to temporarily disconnect? Access to technology is essential for a sense of cultural competency in today’s environment, even while excessive use of it may not be adaptive. It’s crucial to keep improving accessibility and usability for users of all ages. The usability of digital tools can be improved by acknowledging age-related cognitive and physical deterioration in the creation of new technologies. Nowadays, designers of technology and software seldom ever take age-related challenges into account.
Ageism, which is the belief that older people are less capable of understanding or using new technology, may also lead to older people internalising these cultural signals and interacting with the physical and virtual worlds in accordance with them (Tahmaseb et al., 2022). There are undoubtedly both good and bad effects of using technology. The issue of how much is too much needs to be discussed both privately and publicly. It’s advantageous to use technology in moderation. In contrast to overuse, which can negatively impact wellbeing, it can promote a sense of self-efficacy and competence.
Technology, and Humans:
Technology permeates every aspect of our world. All age groups engage in a variety of online activities. When used excessively, technology can become a harmful coping mechanism for lonely people who are looking for further relationships with close friends, family, or coworkers. Total immersion in something is typically not a helpful coping mechanism.
Technology has the power to connect and isolate individuals at the same time. On the one hand, it enables people to interact and communicate with others wherever they are in the world. For instance, messaging applications allow people to communicate in real time with friends and family members who may be geographically distant while social media platforms allow people to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with a huge audience.
Technology, though, can sometimes exacerbate feelings of loneliness. People may find themselves engaging with others less frequently as they become increasingly dependent on technology for communication. Lack of face-to-face social interaction, a crucial component of human connection and socialisation, can result from this. Furthermore, the constant flood of alerts and messages from multiple apps and gadgets can be exhausting and add to the sensation of tension and alienation.
The manner that people use technology is another aspect that may lead to feelings of isolation. For instance, some people may spend an excessive amount of time looking through social media feeds or playing video games on their gadgets, which can reduce the amount of time they have for other activities like working out, engaging in hobbies, or spending time with family and friends. A loss of balance in one’s life caused by this excessive use of technology might result in feelings of loneliness and separation.
In addition, technology may make us feel cut off from our surroundings. People may pay less attention to their physical surroundings and the people in them as they get more absorbed in their screens. This may result in a loss of connection to the people, things, and events that make up the physical world, which may heighten feelings of loneliness.
Overall, despite the possibility of connecting individuals and fostering tighter relationships, technology can also exacerbate feelings of loneliness. It’s crucial for people to utilise technology in moderation and to make sure that it complements rather than replaces their face-to-face social contacts.