Home 2018 Collegiate Magazine Disconnected youth

Disconnected youth

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Students await the beginning of class at GRCC. (Najd Ayari/The Collegiate)

By Audra Schildhouse

Connected at any second, yet so alone. Why is this the case? Looking at our generation in this day and age, it would seem as if people would have a better social life now, more than ever, since cell phones have made staying in touch with friends and family so convenient. While that may be true for some, it is definitely not the case for everyone.

There are so many people who feel isolated more than ever. Yes, we can send a text at any given moment, but the physical, in-person connection isn’t there. Carolyn Madry, a therapist at Integrative Health Consultants of West Michigan, explained some theories she had regarding loneliness and technology in today’s society. The first theory was called parallel play.

“(Parallel play) is actually a term that is used a lot when it comes to children playing, like little kids. A lot of the time they don’t know how to play with other people or with other children, so they do parallel play which is where they’re doing two seperate things but they’re next to each other.”

Madry feels as if parallel play is what is happening with teens and adults. It seems like everyone is glued to their phones, although they are right next to each other. For example, if you go out to a restaurant and look around, the majority of people have their phones out.

“Going out to a restaurant is supposed to be this interactive experience, but I think that we’re getting into this place of parallel play,” Madry said. “People get together and there might be phones out on tables or that they’re looking at, interrupting that kind of conversation and connecting that should be taking place.”

That’s the issue today, social interaction should be a high priority, but cell phones are taking over our present time. In today’s society, many people are turning towards technology and choosing that over real-life conversations. That’s where the parallel play idea comes into the picture. Technology is getting in the way of personal discussions.

“If we don’t get that meaningful interaction, I think you’re more likely to feel lonely without realizing why necessarily because you might be surrounded by people, or you can text with someone and be connected within seconds, but I don’t know if it will feel the same,” Madry said. “I don’t think it is the same feeling.”