Stress, Millennials, Change, and Tech
How stressed are millennials, and why?
The American Psychological Association conducts ongoing surveys on stress levels in America. Their most recent studies examined how Americans are coping with change and technology. The APA provides excellent summaries and infographics that explain their findings. Americans are concerned with the future of the nation (which is unsurprising in the wake of an election year) and indicate a high level of dependence on their technological devices.
Among those asked if social media has helped them find their identity, 36% of millennials said yes, compared to 24% of Gen Xers, and 14% and 10% of Boomers and Matures, respectively. A whooping 63% of Millennials reported feeling attached to their phone or tablet, dropping to 47%, 26%, and 7% among Gen X’ers, Boomers, and Matures. Highest among all generations, 48% of Millennials said that they worried about the negative effects of social media on their mental and physical health. The study also found that those who checked social media more frequently may exhibit higher levels of stress, and may frequently use checking the internet as a coping strategy.
Back in 2015 money and finances were cited as top stressors among Millennials. Considering the prevalence of student loans, a recovering economy, a highly consumeristic society, and a tough housing market this is understandable. Churches have responded to financial stresses and money concerns by offering help with budgeting and stewardship using courses developed by Financial Peace University and Crown Financial. But what are church leaders doing to help congregants in the face of the challenges presented by technology, as well as the stresses that result from a polarized political discourse?
I’m genuinely asking. Andy Crouch has recently written The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. It is a solid resource. And Jean M. Twenge has written an incredibly informative book on the impact smartphones are having on the next generation in her book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us. Those books focus on technology. Michael Wear and Alan Noble have sought to unite Christians around the ideas of civil public discourse and the pursuit of the common good through their website, Public Faith. But has anyone developed a helpful, practical, and systematic approach to Christian education on technology and civil anxiety that could be used in local churches?
If you know of resources, please leave a comment. If you do not, perhaps this is gap you can help to fill. Psalm 119:15 says, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways,” a posture we could help Millennials maintain if they could break free from their technology. Philippians 4:8 exhorts, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” which is a tall task if we’re always on Twitter. We’re in need of resources that will help us face the challenges of our day and to rest in the peace of Christ.
One way to love our neighbor is to understand the stresses, troubles, and hardships of our world and to preach the gospel in a manner that opens up possibilities for peace, freedom, and flourishing, which are all found in Jesus Christ. From the pulpit and in pastoral ministry, many church leaders are already helping their congregations with spiritual wisdom and discernment in how best to engage in civil discourse, to cope with change, and to be disciplined in the use of technology. But there is room to grow, and a great opportunity for churches to share what they have learned so that we can better minister to our neighbors, including Millennials, who evidence the strongest attachments to their electronic devices.