Generation Y – Are we clicking our lives away?

Presentation of Cultural Artefact
The two cultural artefacts chosen, are two YouTube videos. They excellently reflect which impact the social network website "" has on today's youth and young adults - Generation Y. The two videos, are called “Disconnect to connect – Facebook” and were uploaded on 22/12/2010 by the user "Adelaboulfotouh". The first video was filmed from the perspective of a person walking through a courtyard, most likely a university campus, where a lot of young people linger. The person filming the scenery does not speak to any of the people he is passing. The video stops every few seconds and Facebook icons, like “Add Friend", while the cameraman is passing a young women, or "Like", while he is filming people who are taking a picture, appear in the picture. The video ends with the following words: "Real life .. what the Facebook lens can’t show you" and "Don’t click your life away."The second video is the exact opposite of the first one. The previous cameraman does not only observe the scenery and places Facebook comments; he is now an active character. He talks to the young woman from the first video rather than just adding her as a friend on Facebook and he jumps into the picture people are taking instead of "liking" the picture. In the end the same words as in the previous video appear.

Public Health Issue

Generation Y is a generation growing up and living in a digital era, filled with endless kinds of TV channels, gaming consoles, computers, laptops, smartphones with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. Living in a time of constantly changing technology can be a blessing but also a curse. Generation Y faces many different public health issues connected to their technological environment. Physical diseases like obesity and subsequent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, but also mental diseases like body image disturbance, addiction, social isolation and cyber bullying which can lead to depression. These enormous health risks must be taken seriously. This is why I am going to have a critical look at the world of technology and its impact on the health of Generation Y.

Literature Review

Different generations - that means different attitudes, opinions, ideas and interests. There are many different ways to divide people into groups. A division into gender, race or income would be conceivable. The most common method is the division into generations according to people's ages. There are the Seniors, Baby Boomers, Builders, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z. (McCrindle, 2011) The generation I want to concentrate on is generation Y. Gen Y's, who are also called "echo generation" or "millennium generation” (Featherstone, 2007) were born between the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Ferguson, 2010)Overall, according to the latest census published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2006, there were 2,704,276 Gen Y’s in Australia, and around 70 million Gen Y’s worldwide. (Featherstone, 2007) Although humans are divided into age groups for a better comparison, we cannot say that every generation behaved in the same way when they were in the same age. The surroundings and the environment people grow up or live in play a crucial role. (McCrindle, 2011) A particularly good source, in relation to health and the health problems of Generation Y, is the "National Survey of Young Australians 2010" conducted by "Mission Australia". More than 50.000 participants between 11 and 24 years old completed the questionnaire across the whole country. The large attendance was due to the fact that the questionnaires were not only placed in Mission Australia stores or government departments, but also in schools, libraries, recreational places for young people and on various websites. The results of this survey were satisfactory, but also terrifying. 71.3% indicated that they participated in sports, but the top ranked "issue of personal concern" was body image. Over a third of all participants quoted body image as their biggest concern for their own health. Considering the fact that one quarter of all participants regarded the Internet as an "important source of advice and support", one can draw conclusions that the internet plays an important role in young people’s life.In reference to the people in charge for this survey those results show, that more remains to be done "to urge media, fashion and advertising industries" on the one hand and to empower young people with "positive body messages" on the other hand. The problem of body image is a serious issue among Generation Y.Not only the internet but also magazines, television, movies and advertisements almost exclusively show thin people. Those media characters are being idolized by young people. They try to reach this predetermined ideal of beauty and end in "body image dissatisfaction and eating disordered symptomatology" (Thompson, Heinberg, 1999, p . 166)The ideal of beauty, which is shown to young people on television, in magazines, on the Internet or in movies is actually non-existent. "Airbrushing, soft-focus cameras, composite figures, editing and filters" (Thompson and Heinberg, 1999, p. 162) let the faces and bodies of media characters seem perfect and totally without blame. Young people and especially girls and women are being influenced by that. The health risks that are mentioned above, like eating disorders, are unfortunately only the beginning. Suffering from an eating disorder may simply begin with a diet and end in serious health consequences, (Mitchell and Bulik, 2006; Stein and Reichert, 1990) such as isolation and depression. (Australian Government, Department of Health, 2010)The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released alarming figures on mental health of generation Y members. The participants of the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (2007) were asked about their mental disorders throughout their lifetime and symptoms of that disorder in the past 12 months before the survey. Approximately one quarter of each of two of the different age groups, 16-24 and 25-34 years, had a mental disorder. This negative trend seems to be confirmed by young people in some cases. According to the National Survey of Young Australians (2010), 20% describe depression as a significant concern for their health.These alarming figures can have many causes, but one possible reason is the progressive technology young people grow up and live with.The previously mentioned problem "body image" is only one of them. Generation Y members live in an age in which conversations are held via e-mail, chatroom, or instant message. This kind of communication can be very dangerous, because some people are being hostile and insulting on the internet. Telling a person animosity right into the face is a lot harder that just writing an instant message or posting a comment on Facebook or Twitter. (Kowalski, Limber and Agatston, 2008)Cyber bullying, electronic bullying or online social cruelty is a serious problem, which can lead to social isolation and depression. (Kowalski, Limber and Agatston, 2008)Another factor concerning mental health and massive use of technology is 'nomophobia'. The "fear of being out of mobile phone contact" (Dixit, Shukla, Bhagwat, Bindal, Goyal, Zaidi and Shrivastava, 2010, p. 339) can lead to a strong feeling of stress and anxiety when you do not have reception or are out of battery.In recent years the mobile phone has gone through a tremendous development. At the beginning calling people was actually the only thing one could do with a mobile phone. Now, there are numerous new features, going from a calculator to integrated cameras and Internet access. The mobile phone made a development from being a status symbol to an absolute necessity.A cross-sectional study, conducted in India, dealt with mobile phone dependence of college students. Most students were between 17 and 28 years old, 40% aged 20. The most stunning result was that young people seemed to be extremely attached to their phones. 73% said, they even take their mobile phone with them to bed and nearly 20% of the students used their phones while being in class at college.Despite these amazing results, there are some important limitations to consider. Basically there is not much information about 'nomophobia' currently. A few studies, such as this one, prove that some young people are fixated on their phones, but more research is needed to reflect the topic worldwide. (Dixit, Shukla, Bhagwat, Bindal, Goyal, Zaidi and Shrivastava, 2010)Another important factor to be considered in relation of media consumption and health is the excessive and overall bad eating behaviour while watching TV or using the computer. (Story and Faulkner, 1990; Coon, Goldberg, Rogers and Tucker, 2000; Marshall, Biddle, Gorely, Cameron and Murdey, 2004)However, a clear and significant link between inadequate physical activity and media consumption does not seem to be existent. (Marshall et al., 2004)

Cultural and Social Analysis

Are we clicking away our lives? Are we still social creatures or do we more likely spend our free time in front of the television or computer, using gaming-consoles and smartphones all the time, without any social contacts maintained? Well, at least we write instant messages and post our thoughts and opinions on Facebook or Twitter, but this is not the communication we need.There are more than 800 million Facebook users, more than 350 million people who use Facebook via their mobile phones, each user has 130 friends on average and each user is connected to 80 pages on average, either groups or events. (Facebook Statistics, 2011)Founded in 2004 by former Harvard student Marc Zuckerberg, Facebook is now a global network uniting people around the world. (Facebook Factsheet, 2011) And the trend continues. More and more young people are jumping on the train of social networks. Peer pressure is enormous. Whoever is not online is not up to date. Especially for generation Y members, who grew up and currently live in the 'Facebook age', this network offers many advantages but also disadvantages. The above literature review indicates that an increasingly technologized life can cause a lot of different health issues. It is absolutely necessary to be informed and to understand the social and cultural aspects concerning living in a world of an ever increasing technology, in order to address the health issues. The usage of social networking sites is widespread. Pending one’s free time on a social network sites seems to be very popular among generation Y members. Most young people are online every day. (Pempek, Yermolayeva Calvert, 2009)According to Pempek, Yermolayeva and Calvert (2009) the three most important characteristics a young person needs to develop throughout his or her life are identity, intimate relationships and dealing with peer pressure.By taking a closer look at these three characteristics, it is obvious that they are directly connected to the theme of modern media and social networking. People post personal information about themselves, their interests and identities on an online profile, where the information is evaluated by others.Social networking sites like Facebook offer social interaction. According to Ellison, Steinfield and Lamp (2007), social networking websites offer the opportunity to stay in contact with friends and peers while they are offline. They found out that Facebook is mostly used to maintain friendships instead of trying to find new friends. So Facebook did not form us into 'friend-collecting creatures'.Facebook, other social networking websites and other media such as television and computer games take a lot of time. There are many health risks of excessive media consumption, however, not everything can be talked down. As one can see from the given information on Facebook, this online portal offers a chance for social and cultural exchange. This is because Facebook is a global network which allows people all around the world to communicate. Though it is important not to 'click away' ones life completely. One should use Facebook to connect with other people but it should not be the only communication medium used. A face to face conversation will probably never be replaced.A quote by sociologist Jeff Antaya says: "Social media is like a snowball rolling down the hill. It’s picking up speed. Five years from now, it’s going to be the standard.” Therefore more research on this topic needs to be done and health professionals need to combat the harmful trends concerning media usage or rather develop strategies to promotehealth-enhancing trends.

Analysis of Artefact and Personal Learning Reflection

"Don't click your life away!' That was the overall message of the two YouTube videos I chose as media artefacts. Generation Y is the generation which is growing up and living in a world of media and technology. Yes, it is true that a lot of young people spend too much time with technological supplies instead of with real people and yes, it is true that there are a lot of dangerous health issues concerning the abundant usage of modern media, like, body image disturbance, eating disorders, depression, cyber bullying and 'nomophobia' .
Those health issues should not be underestimated, however some features the modern media provides us with, should not be stigmatised completely. It is important for generation Y members to be aware of the danger of getting addicted to being online all day. Like the videos said: "The Facebook lens can’t show you everything”. To be really social one has to meet people and actually talk to them.
A good approach in order to pursue both goals, to maintain social networks, but also to cultivate more face-to-face friendships, is this party I was invited to recently via Facebook.

The Offline Facebook Party / Farewell Party

Invitation text:Busy procrastinating on Facebook while you really should study for your exams? NorSK is inviting you to celebrate the end of this semester… and since we all love our ‘little’ Facebook sessions, why not bring Facebook to the party?! …no iPhones required. All you have to do is wear a white T-shirt (that you’re willing to sacrifice) (...). Write your full name on your shirt, just like on your Facebook profile page, get yourself a permanent marker and join us (...)!On November 17th, wall posts will be hand-written, pokes will be real and liking someone/something will be shown through your own ‘thumbs up’. (...) So, let’s put ourselves ‘Offline’ and let’s get socialising!
In my opinion this party is a step in the right direction. Taking everything into consideration I come to the conclusion that working through so many articles concerning Generation Y and the time the members live in has changed my personal attitude towards my own media consumption.I, as a member of Generation Y, will try to spend less time online and in front of the television and I will try to use the possibilities Facebook and other social networks offer me, the right way.I, as a health professional will do further research on this topic to develop strategies, how the world of social media can be improved to make it more social.

Reference List

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010). 2006 Census QuickStats : Australia. Retrieved from [[¤taction=201&action=401&textversion=false]]]]]]
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Retrieved from
  • Australian government. Department of Health and ageing. (2010). What is an eating disorder? Retrieved from$File/whateat.pdf
  • McCrindle, M., (2011). Understanding Generation Y. Governement of South Australia. Department of Education and Children’s Services. Retrieved from
  • AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). (2011). Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing 2011 Part 1. Retrieved from
  • Boyce, T. (2007). The media and obesity. Obesity Reviews : An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 8 Suppl 1(s1), 201-205. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2007.00342.x
  • Coon, K. A., Goldberg, J., Rogers, B. L., & Tucker, K. L. (2001). Relationships between use of television during meals and children's food consumption patterns. Pediatrics, 107(1), 7-e7. doi:10.1542/peds.107.1.e7
  • Dixit, S., Shukla, H., Bhagwat, A., Bindal, A., Goyal, A., Zaidi, A. K., & Shrivastava, A. (2010). A study to evaluate mobile phone dependence among students of a medical college and associated hospital of central india. Indian Journal of Community Medicine : Official Publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine, 35(2), 339-341. doi:10.4103/0970-0218.66878
  • Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of facebook “Friends:” social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143-1168. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x
  • (2011). Factsheet. Retrieved from!/press/info.php?factsheet
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  • Featherstone, M. (2007). Generation who, what, Y? Credit Union Magazine, 73(5), 34.
  • Ferguson, S. (2011). A global culture of cool? generation Y and their perception of coolness. Young Consumers, 12(3), 265-275. doi:10.1108/17473611111163313
  • Harris, J. L., Bargh, J. A., & Brownell, K. D. (2009). Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behavior. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 28(4), 404-413. doi:10.1037/a0014399
  • Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S., & Agatston, P. W. (2008). Cyber bullying: Bullying in the digital age. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Marshall, S. J., Biddle, S. J. H., Gorely, T., Cameron, N., & Murdey, I. (2004). Relationships between media use, body fatness and physical activity in children and youth: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders : Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 28(10), 1238-1246. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802706
  • Pempek, T. A., Yermolayeva, Y. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2008). College students' social networking experiences on facebook. JOURNAL OF APPLIED DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, 30(3), 227-238. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.12.010
  • Rich, E. (2011). I see her being obesed!’: Public pedagogy, reality media and the obesity crisis. Health, 15(1), 3-21. doi:10.1177/1363459309358127
  • Story, M., & Faulkner, P. (1990). The prime time diet: A content analysis of eating behavior and food messages in television program content and commercials. American Journal of Public Health, 80(6), 738-740. doi:10.2105/AJPH.80.6.738
  • Thompson, J. K. & Heinberg, L. J. (1999). The media's influence on body image disturbance and eating disorders: We've reviled them, now can we rehabilitate them? The Journal of Social Issues, 55(2), 339.

In response to: 'You Freak' - the effect of stigma on mental health
by Alita Rushton (n8310181)

In my opinion, you analysed the problem of stigmatization of mentally ill persons very well. The video you chose describes the current problem in our society perfectly and requests us to be more considerate of people who suffer from mental illness and to offer help rather than bully them. I can clearly see that you dealt with the topic intensively and did in-depth research. Particularly well presented is the fact that not only the mental illness of people who are being stigmatised will change for the worse, but also their physical health. I think most people, are not aware of the damage they cause by bullying mentally ill persons.
All in all, I think this is a very successful piece of writing.

In response to: Shots, shots, shots - Generation Y and binge drinking

by Ben Dickson (n8289867)

First of all I would like to say thank you for this very interesting piece of writing. The song "Shots" by LMFAO was an excellent choice for a cultural artefact. I was shocked by the fact that Gen Y's alcohol consumption is so extreme in Australia. It is unbelievable that 20% of young people who already had an experience with alcohol, are drinking alcohol WEEKLY.

Binge drinking degenerates and I am sure not only Generation Y members are affected. It would be interesting to know about the alcohol consumption and drinking behaviours of the newest generation Z. The public health issue of binge drinking should not be restricted to Gen Y's. This new generation listens to songs like "Shots" by LMFAO as well. In my opinion, the music industry has a big influence on young people. It is important to stop the binge drinking behaviours of Gen Y's and to give one's eye teeth to protect Gen Z's of starting such drinking behaviours.

You havedonea fantasticjobaddressingthe issue of binge drinking.