Having started working within Children and Adolescent Mental Health services, I am becoming even more aware of the detrimental effect social media is having on a generation. A generation who have been interacting via an iPad before they have begun to crawl or speak! The flashing images, and transfixing glow of the screen is our latest version of the soother/baby sitter. Yet we are surprised that this child becomes the teenager addicted to the screen, developing social anxiety, withdrawn from society, motivated by achieving 50+ likes for their latest Instagram selfie, showing the face of a human starved of human contact.
Cue the disturbingly quick plummet when this young person begins to become aware that the latest like/share no longer feeds that yearning to be seen/validated. Why? Because it is the presence of another that allows the self to develop and regulate.
Our biology is designed in such a way that we regulate each other’s nervous systems when we relate. Without interaction we are denying our body’s capability of learning emotional regulation and so creating a society of incredible highs and suicidal lows.
In the attempt to rectify this we plunge into the latest social trend for that quick-fix human contact and sense of belonging. But we leave that social event feeling unsatisfied and potentially more anxious! Why?Because attending too much to one kind of stimulus for too long can limit our ability to act in different scenarios. Our dependence on the virtual world is our safety net, remove that and we feel lost.
Baring in mind that movement is at the centre of our ability to connect, it’s unsurprising that a lifetime of an overused thumb yet ‘still’ body, is going to limit our capacity to cope in social situations off the internet.
So sessions have become a play den, to reconnect to the body’s ability to learn through movement, testing the real world and relationships within it. The moving body creates an opportunity to draw information from experience, beyond the screen, stimulating all senses.
My hope is that this experience of connecting, being seen and responding in a tangible way, within the therapeutic relationship, can develop beyond the session. Drawing a generation back into an imperfect, unfiltered community of real connections of value beyond a ‘like’.