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  • Writer's pictureShreyan Shrimali

Focus for 8 Seconds: The Isolation of the Connected Generation

Updated: Feb 26

Gen-Z has an 8-second attention span, which is 4 seconds less than millennials' reason for short video content.

Gen-Z’s decreased attention span has negatively affected a variety of industries, as per Microsoft research.

The so-called most connected generation is separated by screens from the world, keeping their head down in their bubble, and it's not restricted to just isolation; it's beyond that, resulting in depression & anxiety.

To understand it, let's first understand How it started.

Before Instagram reels, TikTok was launched in 2016, focusing on 15-second videos, which was the first of its kind, gathering tremendous popularity, especially in countries like India. With over 1 billion active users today, surely making, it nothing less than dystopia. Whereas Instagram released reels in August 2020 and is expected to have 1.4 billion active users in 2024.

These social media platforms have engaged people so well, especially Gen-Z, that people will forget the term social gathering. This bond of Gen-Z with these social media platforms is burgeoning as more and more active users are coming on board. Average gen-z spends around 2 hours on reels as per TOI.  Which is nearly 15% of the day (not including sleep). Imagine what a person can do in this time, from self-improvement to spending time with loved ones, but choose to be in front of their screens, which is futile.

There are many ways in which reels affect, from mental to physical health.

Our brain releases dopamine, a chemical linked to pleasure and reward, whenever we watch a new clip. It is the same molecule that is released when we have a wonderful meal, get accolades, or meet our objectives. Our need for more and more reels to experience that dopamine surge turns into an addiction to that quick fulfilment. But there is a price to this addiction.

As we become additive to quick bursts in entertainment, we tend to enjoy minor in slow-paced entertainment; apart from this, our concentration level is also decreased. We become additive to quick bursts in entertainment, we tend to enjoy minor in slow-paced entertainment; apart from this, our concentration level is also decreased. We become less focused on our work. Due to the constant release of dopamine, we get addicted to it, and when we do not have that dose of dopamine, we tend to become unhappy or even depressed.

Gen-z are becoming the most depressed generation, and social anxiety is escalating. A survey found out that around 42% of Gen-Z are depressed which is massive and catastrophic.

We should not alone blame reels as the reason for all this; there are many other factors as well, like isolation and overcommitment.

Because Gen-Z grew up in a time of COVID and home restrictions, the habit of isolation is the new standard for them. Gen-Z prefers to be at home, which is more possible than ever before, thanks to working from home. Staying at home is becoming the new trend; people who don’t do much exercise increase the chances of heart disease and diabetes as well. Avoiding public gatherings leads to low self-esteem, which ultimately leads to negative thoughts or self-harm.

Apart from isolation, over-commitment is becoming a new concern for Gen-Z; as they see success stories in social media, they feel they are the ones who are not achieving great success in life. They tend to forget for every Steve job, there are thousands, if not lakhs, of people who also dropped out of college in the hope of making a multi-billion dollar startup but failed.

Now that we have understood the disadvantages of reels and isolation, it's time to understand the steps to control them.

The first step to getting control of anything is awareness. After the awareness step, let's understand a few points that will help decrease screen time.

  1. Setting up boundaries – You can choose to create reel-free zones at different parts of the home, for example, the work desk. This will create a habit of not watching reels during work, which will help to increase productivity and concentration.

  2. Setting up screen time - There is a feature in ios called Screen Time where individuals can setup screen time limits for apps like Instagram and TikTok. This will help keep track of screen time and help restrict the use of social media.

  3. Notification setting – There are many times when notification popups, and we pick up our phone and later on realize 30 minutes have passed. Changing notification settings and restricting unnecessary notifications will keep the phone down.

  4. Social activities – Getting involved in as many social gathering events as possible is the best strategy. If a person is out and meeting new people, individual will not have time to watch reels, and this will also help to reduce social anxiety. Making new connections will also help individuals to grow personally and professionally.

I believe that there is still much room for awareness as people don’t realize the negative impact of social media platforms on their lives. The advantages of not using social media platforms are many, but the beginning is hard. If people are able to reduce their time on social media, then they will have a happier life. There will be a time again when people will enjoy the little joys of life instead of getting addicted to the screen. What do you think? Should there be government intervention to reduce screen time? Comment down below.

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