Our youth are on a major detox, and it’s better than kale
SA youngsters admit they’ve cut down on social media in the past three months
South African youngsters are cutting back on social media activities in a bid to embark on a digital detox.
Some don’t touch their phones when they return home from lectures, while others may escape to the library, where such devices are banned.
These are some of findings in the latest UCT Unilever Youth 2018 report, an in-depth study of South Africans between the ages of 18 and 24.
The findings are based on more than 18 months of research by the institute and Instant Grass International, a Johannesburg-based marketing agency.
“Economists refer to the ‘youth bulge’, an indication of how the youth segment is growing,” said the institute.
“Besides evaluating demographic shifts, the study also focuses on mindsets, aspirations and buying behaviour among South Africa’s youth across the socio-economic spectrum.”The study revealed that 44% of the 1,833 participants surveyed on digital detoxing admitted they had cut down on social media in the past three months.
“When I get home I don’t want to be on my phone because at campus I’m on the internet all day,” said one respondent.
Another exercised digital control by escaping to the library.
“I don’t go the library to source books anymore, I go there cause I can’t use my phone when I’m there and I can actually concentrate.”
Staying in the online world, the study also examined how young people portrayed themselves in cyberspace.
One youngster said: “Today’s unforgiving social and economic environment places youth under an immense amount of pressure to develop richly curated and diverse online and offline personas.”
Of the 1,833 people surveyed, 37% admitted they portrayed a different image of themselves online.The study also found that young people are living at home longer, studying longer, taking more time to find a job, and have an extended dependence on parents and family.
Of the 1,833, 87% said they felt under pressure, while 76% said they worried about the amount of pressure they were under.
Youngsters cited family, community, peers, remaining relevant, a lack of money and securing a job as their main sources of pressure.
“My university life is different to home. We live separate lives,” said one. “People at home are not trying to do anything above the normal job. They feel comfortable, complacent, and those whoonga drugs are ruining everything.”
The study participants also spoke about peer pressure, saying: “Unless you’re extreme, you’re nothing.”
About 41% said social media left them frustrated or sad most of the time.
Some based self-esteem on “likes” while others said they became stressed when they were not online, wondering how people were reacting to their posts.
Regarding money, 59% said data costs restricted their lives.
“I have choices which my mother didn’t have. But my budget does not allow me to have those choices ... that’s why we have depression,” said a respondent.