Why is Social Isolation a Problem in Young Adults?

why is social isolation a problem

Some young people prefer to be alone, so why is social isolation a problem? Young people face many social challenges that were not too common in previous generations. They often disconnect from friends and family and struggle to find meaningful relationships. Some never go outdoors unless they need something. They make friends online and are comfortable without face-to-face relationships, and so on.

Trends like this have led to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation among young adults.

So why is social isolation a problem in young adults? The simple answer is that social isolation may cause behavior changes that result in long-term problems for both the young adult and society as a whole. But there are benefits to social isolation. This leads to the argument we all need a certain amount of isolation now and then. Still, too much of it can be unhealthy.

This post discusses social isolation among young people and how to avoid it to maintain healthy relationships.

Isolation Among Young Adults Has Increased Over the Past Decade, and It’s Getting Worse

In recent years, young adults have been increasingly isolated from their peers. What does this mean for them and society as a whole?

Let’s start with a clear message on how scientists define Social Isolation. In an article published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Authors Stephanie T. Child et al. differentiate between loneliness and social isolation with the following statement, Researchers typically consider ‘loneliness’ to be defined as ‘perceived social isolation’ (Margetta, 2016), whereas ‘social isolation’ is the lack of people in one’s life for social interaction.”

According to research by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than one out of every five young adults (ages 18–24) reported being lonely at least sometime during the year before the survey. That number was up from one out of every seven in 2001.

So, What is Going On – Why is Isolation increasing?

One reason young adults are becoming more isolated is the rise of technology. As smartphones and other devices become ubiquitous, young adults spend less time interacting one-on-one with each other. They also spend less time talking to their family members.

As people spend more time online, they become less likely to interact with others face-to-face. This trend is especially true for younger generations, who are more exposed to technology than other generations, from personal smartphones to game consoles, where you can engage with people globally. Young people find their needs met in internet platforms and apps that make everything possible, from schooling to work to dating.

Young people do not need to see each other physically to live a complete life, as one can do almost anything in isolation. You can even order food and deliver it to your door without stepping out of your room.

But technology and time spent online are not the only reasons. Isolation is increasing. Below are a few reasons why isolation is rising among young adults. These present reasons why isolation is a problem we shouldn’t take too lightly.

  • Mental Health Issues
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Lack of Confidence or Low Self Esteem
  • Jobs that Force you to Work in Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Overwhelm
  • Laziness
  • Selfishness
  • Excessive gaming or use of other technologies
  • Excessive social media involvement

Why is Social Isolation a Problem? Here’s What Happens When We Isolate Ourselves From Others?

is social isolation a problem in young adults

There is a general belief that when we isolate ourselves from others, we may become lonely, depressed, and anxious. But when we connect with other people? We feel happier, more productive, and more satisfied with our lives.

This is not always the case. Social isolation is very different from loneliness,s as you can be isolated but not feel lonely. Many bloggers, tech workers, social media executives, and entrepreneurs may choose an introverted lifestyle, but this does not necessarily mean they are lonely. Learn more about loneliness in young adults here.

In reality, there are some negative consequences to isolation but also benefits.

Benefits of Isolation

Social isolation has been linked to many mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. But what are the benefits of being alone? Social isolation can cause stress, leading to physical problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. It also increases the risk of suicide.

You Can Focus More Intently and Achieve More

Being alone allows people to focus more intently on tasks since there is no human distraction. This can lead to better performance on tests and exams, improved productivity, and increased creativity.

You Can Be More Creative

If you’re feeling isolated or lonely, try taking some time to do something creative. It might sound counterintuitive, but spending time alone can help you think more creatively. Studies show that when people spend time alone, they tend to become more open to new ideas and experiences.

You Can Learn More About Yourself

There’s no denying that social interaction is an essential part of life. However, there are times when we need to take a break from our friends and family. Sometimes, it’s good to be by yourself. You can discover what you like or dislike, explore new goals, or what motivates you because you are taking time away from everything else to think.

You Can Become A Better Person

Being alone isn’t necessarily bad. Some people thrive in solitude. It gives them time to think, reflect, and plan. They also tend to make better decisions because others’ opinions don’t influence them.

Below are Some Negative Consequences of Isolation


However, there are times when social isolation can cause more harm than good. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or lonely, seek support from friends, family members, or professionals.

Isolation May Lead to Other Problems

Social isolation has been linked to increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness rates. It also leads to poorer sleep quality, higher blood pressure, and lower levels of self-esteem. In addition, research shows that people who spend less time interacting with others tend to eat more and exercise less.

While this is not the case with everyone, it is common to see individuals who isolate themselves display particular personality traits.

Young Adults Who Isolate Themselves Socially May Develop Personality Disorders

For instance, people who feel isolated often develop an exaggerated sense of personal importance and superiority, lack of empathy, and self-centeredness, leading to a rise in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) among these young adults. While isolation is not a cause of NPD, it is seen significantly among isolated individuals.

They may believe they are better than others and deserve special treatment. This attitude can lead them to act selfishly toward others, even though they might not intend to hurt anyone.

We also lose our ability to understand what motivates them

When we isolate ourselves, we lose our ability to see the world through other people’s eyes.
If you’re feeling lonely, try talking with friends, family members, or coworkers. You’ll find that being social helps you cope with stress and anxiety. It also makes you happier because you’ll enjoy spending time with others.

Isolation May Lead to Increased Health Issues in Young Adults

There’s no doubt that isolation leads to loneliness. And loneliness has been linked to increased risks for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and mental illnesses. In addition, people who feel isolated tend to eat more unhealthy foods and drink more alcohol than those who spend more time with others.

We Miss Out on Starting and Building Relationships

We also miss out on learning how to understand our own lives better. By spending less time with others, we’re not getting feedback about what works and doesn’t work in our relationships. This means that we’re not learning how to improve our social selves.

If Social Isolation is a Problem, What Can We Do About It?

In asking why social isolation is a problem, researchers came up with some ideas for combating isolation.

There are several things that people can do to overcome isolation. First, ensuring everyone has access to social support networks is critical. This includes family members, friends, neighbors, and community groups. Second, it’s essential to provide opportunities for meaningful interaction with others. Third, it’s vital to encourage healthy habits among young adults. These include eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Finally, it’s imperative to address mental health issues early on.

Here are some ideas to help you get out and meet new people

why is social isolation a problem

If you feel lonely, try joining a regular club or group. You might also consider volunteering at an organization that helps others. Or find a friend who shares similar interests as you.

Join a Community Group

There are many ways to connect with other people online. One of the easiest ways is through community groups. These groups are usually organized by interest, such as sports teams, hobbies, or political parties. Joining these groups will give you access to people with shared interests and experiences.

Volunteer at an Organization or Charity

Volunteering is one of the simplest ways to make new friends and meet new people. You can volunteer at organizations or charities that help others in need. This type of volunteering is often done in exchange for free services, so it’s a win-win situation.

Start a Meetup Group

If you live in an area with a large population of people who share similar interests, start a Meetup group. Volunteers usually organize these groups, allowing members to connect through shared activities.

Attend Local Events

Another option is to attend local events. Many cities offer free classes, lectures, and workshops on fitness, cooking, and gardening. You might also find volunteer opportunities at these events.

A Few Final Words

In asking why social isolation is a problem in young people, we have uncovered that this is not always the case. While social isolation can be seen as troubling since it is associated with personality disorders and mental health, it carries many benefits, as discussed above. Still, it can be a symptom of a more severe problem. If you feel lonely, isolated, depressed, or anxious, please immediately contact a healthcare professional to assist you with this problem.

Christine Udeani, JD
Christine Udeani, JD

Christine is a dedicated mother of six young adults and a teenager who has made significant contributions to the online world through her writing and entrepreneurship. She attended Northwestern University, Strayer University, Thomas M Cooley School of Law, NWCULAW, and holds degrees in business, Law, and Communications. She shares tips and experiences to help young adults and their parents with this generation’s issues.

Find me on: Web | Twitter


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