Social Isolation: Topic Research

Topic Research

PP #1: Social Isolation

Feelings of social isolation have increased in populations around the world since the early 1900s. The disabled, the mentally ill, and the elderly are especially susceptible to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as are those in rural areas, those with low self-esteem, and those without a confidant. Recent research points to deleterious effects on the brain from social isolation, which in turn contributes to a myriad of health problems. Those who are socially isolated have shorter life spans and suffer from more illnesses than those with active social lives. Is our fast-paced society contributing to this increase in isolation or do our busy lives allow for more social interactions? Is the internet permitting more social contact through social networking sites or interfering with it by limiting more intimate friendships? What measures need to be taken to reverse this trend? How will advances in technology open up possibilities for increases or decreases in social isolation?

Video: I Forgot My Phone

Excerpt from Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

Mystery of how social isolation affects brain solved  by Stephanie Pappas

“Research in rhesus monkeys and humans has shown that social isolation during childhood has an array of nasty and lifelong effects, from cognitive and social problems in neglected children to working memory troubles in isolated monkeys. These children and monkeys also show abnormalities in the white matter of the brain, which includes support cells such as oligodendrocytes as well as the fat-covered neural projections that act as the brain’s communication system.”

Texting: Can we pull the plug on our obsession?

Social Isolation: A Modern Plague

“Remarkably, 25% of Americans have no meaningful social support at all – not a single person they can confide in. And over half of all Americans report having no close confidants or friends outside their immediate family. The situation today is much worse today than it was when similar data were gathered in 1985…. ‘The toll? … increased vulnerability to mental illness. Social isolation is a huge risk factor for the onset of major depression, which has more than doubled in prevalence over the past decade.  And there’s growing evidence that isolation increases vulnerability to various forms of addiction, as well.’”


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