Young, lonely and hooked on so­cial me­dia

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - OPINION - Judy Mur­ray

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

Tracey Crouch

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