Future of Life in Canada – Stress, Loneliness and Digital Obesity looks at the insights from new study by Intensions Consulting, a market research firm, and futurist Nikolas Badminton that has examined the Future of Life in Canada. The study, which surveyed 1,009, Canadian residents, set out to explore the changing nature of self and society across Canada.
A Fragile Future
The study found that younger Canadians were reporting significantly higher rates of life stress. Among those aged 16 to 29, over half (51 per cent) reported experiencing financial stress most or every day, 32 per cent reported experiencing family stress most or every day, and 34 per cent reported experiencing work stress most or every day.
Younger Canadians were also more likely to report significantly higher rates of loneliness and insecurity, with 46 per cent often feeling like they lacked companionship, 42 per cent often feeling isolated from other people, 47 per cent often worried that other people were judging them, and 32 per cent often worried that other people might hurt them.
“These findings show a real disparity between the sense of safety and connection reported by older Canadians, and the sense of insecurity and loneliness reported by younger Canadians. It appears that many young Canadians are experiencing a deep sense of disconnection,” said study lead author Nick Black, Managing Partner at Intensions Consulting.
The study also found that younger Canadians were more likely to have experienced mental health problems. Among those aged 16 to 29, 32 per cent had been diagnosed or treated for depression in the past year, 28 per cent had been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year, and 26 per cent self-identified as narcissists (e.g. egotistical, self-focused, vain).
According to Nikolas Badminton, study co-author and futurist, “Young adults born in the ‘Internet Age’ were promised an exciting and connected future. Instead we’ve seen reduced privacy, greater exposure to disinformation, and more fragile mental health. There needs to be a shift towards re-connecting with the friends, families and communities that support mental resiliency.”
The Age of Digital Obesity
Looking for factors that could help explain these findings, the researchers delved into the daily digital behaviour of Canadians. While the average Canadian reported spending 224 minutes (<4 hours) a day on social media, apps, and online platforms, those aged 16 to 29 reported spending 419 minutes (7 hours) a day.
This was concerning, as the study found that spending more than 240 minutes (4 hours) a day on social media, apps, and online platforms, was associated with significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety, and self-identified narcissism.
“To use a diet analogy, our data suggests that Canadians might want to restrict their level of daily digital consumption,” says Black. “For younger Canadians, whose daily digital consumption is bordering on digital obesity, a pretty substantial restriction may be required.”
However, getting younger Canadians to restrict their daily digital consumption could prove challenging. Among those aged 16 to 29, 65 per cent said they would find it difficult to not use a cell phone for 24 hours, and 47 per cent would find it difficult to not use any social media for 24 hours.
“Parasitic social apps have created a craving for ‘likes’, ‘loves’, ‘shares’ and comments,” says Badminton. “Humanity is now at a turning-point where we must see this algorithmically-guided behavior as being harmful to society. In fact, we need to demand that the technology companies put functionality in place to encourage moderate-to-low usage.”
About the Future of Life Study
These are the findings of an Intensions Consulting study conducted between January 20, 2020, and January 28, 2020. For this study a 20-minute online survey was administered with a sample of 1,009 Canadian residents aged 16 years and older. The sample was stratified by gender, age, and region, to ensure that the sample’s composition reflected the underlying distribution of the population as determined by Census data. A traditional probability sample of comparable size would have produced results considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
For more information on this study, please contact Nikolas Badminton.
About Intensions Consulting
Intensions Consulting Inc., is a market research company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. We use statistics and psychology to find hidden insights and market opportunities for clients across North-America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. Our research findings have been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, and have been quoted by news organizations including the BBC, CBC, Daily Mail, and Toronto Star.
About Nikolas Badminton
Nikolas Badminton is a world-renowned futurist, speaker, and media celebrity. He leads the team Exponential Minds, an expert advisory firm that helps trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments and media shift their mindset from “what is” to “WHAT IF…” The result is empowered employees, new innovative products and incredible growth that leads to more revenues and a more resilient future.