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9 Nov, 2022 - 20 min read

The Impact Series - Loneliness and the impact of Social Media

The Impact Series with Tim Gander

Loneliness is on the rise around the world, impacting the GenZ population the most (18-24yrs old now). It's no coincidence that this generation are also digital natives and live their lives online.

Social media for all its promises of social connection is in fact exacerbating this epidemic of loneliness. Its unhealthy algorithms offer quick hits of dopamine but that’s reducing opportunities for deeper, truly human connections. These Master’s graduates are working on ways to help us self-manage our social media reliance to reduce the harm it’s having on well-being.

Our guests today are both graduates of the Master of Technological Futures at Tech Futures Lab. Independently Melissa and Ben used their Master’s to look into aspects of mental health in Aotearoa and how technology, namely social media is having a negative impact on wellbeing.

What is loneliness?

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Melissa’s focus was on the loneliness epidemic our societies are facing, not just here but all around the world. She explored the drivers behind why more people are experiencing loneliness and what some of the strategies or remedies might be to reduce this issue in our communities.

How can we adopt a healthy relationship with our social media consumption ?

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Ben took interest in how COVID and the lockdown periods moved the way we connect with one another to the virtual space and how people used social media as a primary form of staying in touch. What he found was Social Media can lead to problems with poor mental health if not managed with a healthy balance. So he developed a framework - the Socially Fed Pyramid, borrowing from the well-known Food Pyramid to propose how we might think about our social media use in the context of a wider, healthier social lifestyle.

Both of these interesting interventions have threads of deep connection and critical engagement and we are hoping to unpack that today.

Production credits.

Interview by Tim Gander, content development by Anna Reid, editing, post-production EMA, graphic design, and project management by Marcelle Domingo