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Thursday, 3 May 2018

America Has a Loneliness Problem, Especially among Young People

The health insurer Cigna recently conducted a survey on loneliness in the United States. In the final report, about half of the 20,000 respondents said that they struggle with loneliness—specifically, “sometimes or always” feeling alone or left out. The study also found that two out of every five respondents felt isolation, a lack of companionship, or a lack of meaning in their relationships.
According an NPR article on the survey, these results echo past reports on loneliness in America.


Other reports have found that “20 to 43 percent of Americans report feeling lonely or socially isolated.” Some of these studies have also found loneliness to be linked directly with physical health problems. As NPR reports, this includes “a higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke” as well as effects on the immune system and “recovery from breast cancer.” On top of that, lonely people are also at greater risk of “premature mortality.”

As the NPR article notes, loneliness is generally associated with elderly individuals who are isolated from busy or distant family members. Surprisingly, however, the generation most prone to loneliness and its associated effects seems to be Generation Z, those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. The study says that this generation, on average, ranked higher on the loneliness scale than any of the previous three generations. Meanwhile, the Greatest Generation, those who are over the age of 72, average the lowest loneliness scores.


Although the Cigna survey found no such correlation, past studies suggest that loneliness among the young correlates with screen time and social media usage. This past research shows that “people who spend less time looking at screens and more time having face-to-face social interactions are less likely to be depressive or suicidal.”
If nothing else, these findings show that God knew what he was doing when he provided the first man, Adam, with a partner. He created mankind to be in community. And the lack of that community won’t just affect mental health but physical health as well. As God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.” That includes alone with a screen.

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