Millennials, defined as young adults born in the 1980s and coming of age in the new millennium, face particular Attachment challenges. Some theorize that it is due to the digital age and emphasis of screen-based social media, while others point to overall societal trends, such as the tendency toward blended, rather than nuclear, families. In all likelihood, it is a combination of factors that cause Millennials to face additional challenges when developing Secure Attachment.
The Family-Focus VS Peer-Focus Shift
As blended families dominate the modern household, the caregiver-child relationship can become complicated, as parents attempt to incorporate step-parents and siblings into the family unit. More modern families also find both parents working and daycare or caregiving outside of the family unit, leaving caregiving to strangers and professionals.
Parents, like their children, are leading lives on their screens, which may cause competition when it comes to quality family together time, further diminishing the already strained connection. Kim John Payne, M.Ed. discusses this extensively in his work on Attachment and the impact of screen time for both children and adults and the family unit.
Millennials find themselves developing a peer-based focus much sooner and rely heavily on those relationships to have their emotional needs met.
What’s Your Status?
The social media status is the modern personal billboard. Updating your emotional, familial, or relationship highs and lows in a limited number of characters for the world to see may lead to simplifying complex emotional feelings or minimizing trauma, loneliness, or anguish.
According to a recent study, social media use displaces authentic connection and can create feelings of isolation by highlighting activities of friends and family that cause feelings of being left out.
The Digital Age as Related to Therapy
Millennials seem to understand that something is off in today’s disconnected society, and may even seek therapy to uncover the source of their discontent, but not in the traditional form you might expect. Many Millennials report seeking advice and answers online rather than seeking personal guidance from a therapist, trusted friend, or mentor.
Perhaps this could be the need to maintain a positive “status” in the eyes of friends and acquaintances. The anonymity of the Internet is available 24-hours a day.
Google That Problem – Our first go-to these days is often to Google answers to get instant results for both medical and emotional questions.
Online Therapy Services – Online therapy services have capitalized on Millennials’ dependence on web-based services. Talk Space, and other online therapy services feature text and web-based sessions, forgoing traditional face-to-face sessions.
Bringing the Focus Back to Connection
Unfortunately, no easy solution exists to solve the problem of screen time and disconnection for Millennials and other age groups. The advice from Kim John Payne and other experts includes bringing the focus back to the family and to emphasizing connection.
Knowledge of Attachment Theory and healing Attachment wounds can also empower individuals to reclaim a connected life and move toward Secure Attachment.