No hi-tech cures


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While Generation Z, those born between 1996 and 2010, is the first generation whose connection to the world around them is principally defined by the smart phone, it was Millennials who ushered in powerful technologies – the Internet of Things, smart phones, Alexa, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence etc. – that have built the foundation the Hi-Tech addictions now inflicting societies worldwide.

And new studies are beginning to show a price is being paid for their hi-tech obsessions.

The data are beginning to demonstrate how lifestyle patterns driven by technology, especially reliance on cell phones to navigate life, are correlating to a growing number physical and mental issues.

More precisely put, U.S. Millennials – the roughly 73 million people born between 1981 and 1996 – are sick and getting sicker.

That’s the conclusion of a study released in April by Blue Cross Blue Shield after looking at the health records of about 55 million millennials who have private health insurance.

TECHNOLOGY, HEALTH AND DEATH

According to the study, Millennials show distinctly worse trends in eight of the ten most serious chronic conditions than the preceding Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980. These health conditions are impacting Millennials beginning at about age 27.

Millennials are showing steady and dramatic increases in major depression, hyperactivity, and type 2 diabetes and also a rise in hypertension, high cholesterol, substance abuse, and psychosis. Most of these are “lifestyle” illnesses and women are 20 percent more likely to be affected than men.

Compared to the older Generation X when those folks were the same age, Millennials are 18 percent more likely to suffer from depression, 12 percent more likely to be addicted to drugs, and 19 percent more likely to have diabetes.

Millennials’ dependency on smart phones, social media and the internet has been quietly but steadily creating a generation of social misfits who sooner or later pay the price for their lack of human engagement.

A survey of 1,000 millennials by the Bank of America found that 40 percent of them said they interact more with their cell phones than people.

Other studies have shown the lack of social skills causes depression, which creates escape routes from drug and alcohol addiction, to poor eating habits and a lack of self esteem and self identity.

Indeed, “deaths of despair” are increasing among millennials. In 2017, suicide and overdoses claimed the lives of 36,000 millennials in the U.S.

While several factors contribute to these alarming trends – student loan debt, joblessness, lack of opportunity, poor living conditions, etc. – a growing number of studies show because millennials seek refuge in their technology, they’re ill-equipped to face and conquer other life challenges.

As Baby Boomers die away, millennials are poised to become the largest U.S. population group. If their health outlook doesn’t improve, the demands on the U.S. health care system could push health insurance premiums beyond affordability if current fee-for-service medicine and a reliance on drugs persist. TJ


TREND FORECAST

The plight of millennials will intensify among Generation Zers, who are the first generation raised in the War on Terror and Panic of ’08 fears … fear of no money coming in, fear of a terrorist attack, fear that the institutions that bind their world will crumble before them.

Hiding in their devices is a good way to escape the uncertain world around them.

A growing number of teens, about a third, prefer communication through texting, Instagramming and other social media because it’s safe and something they can control.

They are primed to intensify the lack of human engagement millennials experience that will play a major role in driving physical and mental health issues ahead.

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