Despair When Together; Despair When Alone

Rebecca Garcia Mendez

Most teens today are depressed. Studies have shown that depression and anxiety in ages 3-17 have “increased over the last 5 years.” Technology has been around for years, it is nothing new, but in recent years it has become much more present in teens today. Technology has created a huge impact on the way people communicate among the younger generation. It can ultimately lead to a feeling of isolation when without it. This feeling is seen through many teens in the present time. Technology has greatly impacted the younger generation’s way of communication and leads to a feeling of loneliness when in situations without it, conversely creating an even bigger sense of depression when with it.

Technology has drastically changed through generations, and because of it, today’s main source of communication is through phones and social media. In past years people communicated face-to-face or even through meaningful phone calls. Teens today use social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram to communicate with their friends. Although their phones contain an app for messages, they turn to using other social media platforms for messaging. They text through these platforms, even when in the presence of their friends. In Jean M. Twenge’s article Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation, he makes a lot of claims about the impact that technology and smartphones have on this generation of youth. He says that although a group of teens were all together in a room they would text and communicate through their phones. He also says that teens, “may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly — on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook.” All that they do is through social media. As a seventeen-year-old, I fit into the study that was mentioned above and I can say that I do the same thing. Even when I am with friends, I’ll see a video and show it to my friends. It’s almost natural now. Yet, when teens are not with their friends, they fall into a lonely atmosphere. One where they can fall into depression. The article claimed that teens today, “have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves.” This further supports the claim that when teens are outside of contact with social media they fall into isolation. They fall into isolation and don’t allow themselves to communicate with those who are present. Even though teens today communicate through social media, it isn’t enough. They need human connection and teens get less and less human contact with their friends. Although this is one of the negatives, there are some positives that come with social media. Teens are able to express themselves and meet new people. They create connections with those their age. But unfortunately, social media has been creating more bad than good. 

Another point that feeds into their idea of being alone is that social media makes life look like it is flawless. Teenagers feel like their life has to be perfect because everyone’s lives on social media look perfect. They become vulnerable and base their worth on the number of followers they have. It leaves room for others to judge based on how their lives look through an app. In an article titled, Let’s Get Lost, by  Kenneth Goldsmith, he states that he is “wasting time on the internet.” This is what so many teens are doing today. They will scroll for countless hours on a screen. They rely on it. They communicate through it and when that goes away, they’re left with nothing. Their screens are the most important thing to them. Even while knowing that social media causes harm, they do little about it. They allow themselves to fall into the loneliness that comes with it. They become vulnerable to the negative mental health issues that social media brings. They do this because it’s their way of communicating and they would rather be sad than an outcast. 

When teens are without their phones, they often fall into a depressive state because their phones are their primary source of entertainment and communication. This idea was broadly mentioned previously, but it is an important topic. In an article, a young girl was having a conversation with a friend. The friend cared little for what she had to say, so the young girl said, “I took her phone out of her hands and I threw it at my wall.” Even though every teen does it, it is common to see teens get upset when their friend is paying more attention to their phone than the conversation at hand. Teens today are so addicted to their phones that they don’t have any clue what is going on around them. They will nod their head or say “mhm” to act like they are engaging in the conversation. They care more for what they see online than they do for those who are in front of them. Looking back on the situation with the young girl, she isn’t the only one who feels this way. There are many teens who feel like they are not being listened to because those around them are glued to their phones. When they begin to feel like no one’s there for them, they become isolated. They close off from those around them and will begin to feel like no one cares. Each time their friend is paying more attention to their phone than the person talking, it feeds into the idea that no one cares. 

Technology and teenagers go hand in hand. One is rarely seen without the other. Teenagers rely on technology and sadly it’s all they really know. Even when social media is accompanied by feelings of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and isolation we continue to see its use grow and grow. 


Goldsmith, Kenneth. “Let’s Get Lost.” Let’s Get Lost, e-book ed., pp. 300-15. Originally published in Let’s Get Lost, New York City, Harper Perennial, 2016.

Osorio, Aubrianna. “Research Update: Children’s Anxiety and Depression on the Rise.” Georgetown University, Mar. 2022, Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.

Twenge, Jean M. “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us.” Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?, e-book ed., pp. 288-300. Excerpt originally published in Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?, 2017.