Young, lonely and hooked on social media
Government minister Tracey Couch said last week that loneliness was a major health problem affecting young people every bit as much as older folk.
I agree, and I blame most of our social problems these days on our addiction to screens. There will be many young people spending hours and hours in their rooms on their own in front of a computer on social media, forums for their homework or chatting virtually rather than face to face.
There are so many negative points socially with that and it’s a real challenge.
The sense of loneliness and isolation can be compounded by the sort of things they’re reading and watching.
People tend to only post the positives on sites like Facebook and Instagram, ‘Look where I am, look what I’ve bought.’ In fact, the world according to social media looks great and often doesn’t reflect reality.
So, if we’re going to try to tackle loneliness, it’s up to parents to restrict screen time for a start, and for schools to ban phones and get teenagers out and about developing the social skills they will need in adult life.
I’m a big believer in the power of school and community clubs that offer a sense of belonging and interaction. Whether it’s chess or cheerleading, it’s all about communication, discipline and team work. When I listened to Gwyneth Paltrow talking on the BBC last week about her wellness brand, Goop, it sounded like a great unpaid advert. Her company has been condemned – and fined – for making unscientific claims about their products including jade eggs to promote “sexual energy”. To me what she’s advocating is gobbledy-goop.
Her business has a bizarre name, some of the stuff she comes out with is just too far-fetched, and she’s more than a little whacky.
She wasn’t very convincing in her interview either. If you’re trying to sell something you have to talk with confidence and back it up with facts – particularly if you’re broadcasting to millions of people.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow promotes skincare from Goop, her controversial lifestyle brand