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In the latest episode of Navya Naveli Nanda’s podcast ‘What The Hell Navya’, her maternal grandmother Jaya Bachchan expressed why she isn’t a great fan of the internet. When Navya questioned whether life was less stressful before the internet, Jaya Bachchan agreed to it and said that today’s youngsters seek validation from the internet and therefore are prone to anxiety attacks, which the veteran actress affirmed is something people of her generation had never heard of in their childhood, in fact not even midlife.

“Navya, what happens among your generation is that ‘answer to the calls quickly, reply to texts quickly’. You get your validation from what you see on the internet and your phone. ‘Are we looking nice? Are we thinking correctly? If you are saying the right thing?’ All this increases your stress levels,” she said. She emphasised that too much information leads to anxiousness in young people.

While Navya’s mother and Bachchan’s daughter Shweta – in the same episode – said that it’s not as if anxiety didn’t exist earlier and that it’s only people talk about it more now, one is left wondering if what Jaya Bachchan says is not wrong. And it seems that some experts tend to agree. Dr Munia Bhattacharya, Consultant Psychologist with Marengo Asia Hospitals, Gurgaon, shares her insight on how the internet is leading to childhood anxiety.

Does Internet Contribute To Anxiety In Youngsters?

“The internet, while a powerful tool for information and connectivity, has been implicated in contributing to anxiety among children. One prominent factor is the pervasive influence of social media. Kids are exposed to curated versions of others’ lives, fostering unrealistic standards and a constant sense of comparison. Cyberbullying on these platforms further adds to the stress, creating an environment where online interactions can be a source of anxiety,” shares Dr Munia Bhattacharya.

Moreover, the pressure to maintain an online presence, accumulate likes, and adhere to beauty ideals depicted on social media platforms can negatively impact children’s self-esteem and body image, says Dr Bhattacharya. “The digital age has ushered in a new era of challenges, where the line between the virtual and real worlds often blurs, intensifying the impact on kids’ mental well-being,” the Consultant Psychologist adds.

Are Today’s Generation More Stressed?

The doctor agrees that compared to earlier generations, there is evidence to suggest that children today may experience higher levels of anxiety. “The immediacy and constant connectivity facilitated by the internet expose them to a barrage of information and societal expectations. Fear of missing out (FOMO) on social events or trends prevalent online can contribute to a heightened sense of pressure and anxiety,” says Dr Bhattacharya. 

Also Read: How To Manage Stress In Workplace And Not Be Overwhelmed – Experts Share 10 Tips

The Bane Of Information Overload

One significant problem exacerbated by the internet is information overload. “The sheer volume of data available at our fingertips can overwhelm individuals, affecting their ability to process and make informed decisions. Constant notifications, emails, and the need to stay updated on various topics can lead to decreased productivity and increased stress levels,” says Dr Bhattacharya. 

Navigating through an abundance of information also poses challenges related to credibility and reliability. “Misinformation and the need to sift through numerous sources to find accurate data can be time-consuming and mentally taxing. Developing strategies to cope with information overload, such as setting limits on screen time, prioritising sources, and honing critical thinking skills, is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance in the digital age,” Dr Bhattacharya adds.

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