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World Happiness Report: A wakeup call for America

For centuries, humans have been searching for the answer to happiness. There are so many opinions about what happiness is or what it should be, but one theme seems to hold true across generations - Happiness is a state of mind.

The annual Gallup World Happiness Report recently released shows that some people living in the United States aren’t as happy as they used to be. This annual report ranks a country’s happiness overall; moreover, it ranks happiness based on age. The findings revealed that young Americans are much less joyful than older folks and their negative feelings about life and the future are to blame.

The U.S. typically ranks in the top 20, but this year moved to No. 23. When you break down happiness based on age, the differences in this report are astounding. For people 60 and over, the United States ranks 10th among the 104 countries surveyed from 2021 to 2023. However, for people 30 and under, their unhappiness sank the U.S. to 62nd place.

What this report revealed is that our young people are suffering from loneliness and isolation, likely because of COVID. The pandemic forced them to attend school online or work remotely. Social media might have also played a role in this outcome. The isolation has continued by habit rather than mandate, mainly where contact is cell to cell rather than eye to eye. Personal isolation is both habit forming and leads to personality changes and cognitive degeneration.

Numerous studies have concluded that overexposure to social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok could lead to mood disorders, depression, and anxiety. Those feelings of reduced well-being could have dangerous consequences.

Limiting social media access to young people was even a concern for Florida’s lawmakers in the last legislative session. While Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill prohibiting all minors under 16 from having social media accounts, he is expected to sign HB3, Online Protections for Minors. This revised bill would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to hold accounts with parental consent.

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