TECHNOLOGY AND HAPPINESS
Jean Twenge wrote in The Atlantic, “the arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of social interactions to their mental health.” She continues, “since the addition of smartphones to our lives in 2007, there is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in their hands are having profound effects on their lives, making them seriously unhappy.” In 2017, the American Journal of Epidemiology did a study to determine if social media was causing unhappiness as opposed to simply appealing to people who were already unhappy. It concluded that the causation is significant. The results are written up in the Harvard Business Review, “We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”
There is a mental health crisis for college students, who report being more stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and suicidal than all previous generations. Large percentages of current college cohorts have unhealthy relationships with technology, food, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Many are not sleeping well, not going to class, and not staying in school. According to Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA there has been a dramatic increase in the number of college first years reporting being stressed. According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, in a 2015 report, between 2009 and 2015 the number of students visiting counseling centers increased by about 30% on average, while enrollment grew by less than 6%. In the spring of 2017, nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function. 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools.
The Neumann Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that in 2016, one in 12 college students made a suicide plan, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 20-24 year olds.
FACT: 1,100 college students die by suicide every year.
COLLEGE ATTRITION RATES
In 2016, attrition rates at 1,669 colleges and universities were studied and the collective loss of revenue for colleges in the U.S. was calculated at $16.5 billion. The largest single school loses $102 million annually, the smallest $10,000, the average is $10 million. According to a study at University of Michigan, one-third of this attrition is due to students reporting depression and anxiety. It is recognized that schools could improve their retention rates by up to 76% if they focused more on student needs.
Create mindful communities on campuses that make everyone feel welcome, improve feelings of wellbeing and fulfilment, and help all students get the most out of their college experience.
- Promote a balanced approach to technology use: we all know binge watching Netflix, playing video games and scrolling through social media are “time sucks”, are you using technology or is it using you?
- Foster in-person, peer communities that endeavor to “do good”.
- Improve students feelings of productivity and fulfillment during the college experience through mindful time management techniques.
- Help students form healthier habits and more balanced relationships through mindfulness and mentorship support.