Selfies have been a dominant part of the teen landscape for as long as smartphones have existed. It’s hard to go anywhere that teens gather without seeing someone with an extended arm and making a “duck face.” Selfies, usies, groupies, celebfries, and injurfries. Yep, these are all real! (editors note: I’m pretty sure Scott is making this up) and are all a variation of the time old obsession of self-documentation. Today’s teens are merely carrying on an age-old tradition embraced by cavemen, children, and some of our world’s most acclaimed artists (Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Rockwell, etc.)
Is all of this self-capitualization an act of narcissism or a cry for help? The answer is… YES!
As I mentioned last week, recent studies show that Americans are a lonely group of folks, and recent studies indicate that young people are the loneliest of them all.
Yep, that’s right, that gaggle of teens wandering around your campus snapping pics of themselves and posting them on Instawhatever might not be self-absorbed, they might be lonely.
Loneliness is a blurred state that marries ones personal, mental, and physical health and it’s effects on young people can be tragic. Depression, self-harm, and suicide are on the rise and can be indicators that with greater access comes greater isolation.
In fact, research published in 2017 by psychologist Jean Twenge at San Diego State University suggests that more screen time and social media may have caused a rise in depression and suicide among American adolescents. The study also found that people who spend less time looking at screens and more time having face-to-face social interactions are less likely to be depressive or suicidal.
How do we address this crisis of connection among our nation’s youth? MUSIC!
In a similar, but unrelated, recent journal article, researchers discovered that it takes approximately 90 hours to make a new friend. Sure, you could become “acquaintances" at 25 hours or eventually develop a "casual friendship" at a mere 50 hours, but to develop a true bond, researchers put the benchmark at 90 hours. The study further noted that the closest bonds of friendship were formed when the individuals were doing something that they enjoy together.
Ninety hours may seem like an arbitrary mark, but it makes perfect sense to anyone who has ever participated in a school music group.
Think about it, a typical school semester involved approximately 90 hours of instruction. Even more ironic is the fact that a typical marching band season involves roughly 90 days of rehearsals. Don’t believe me? Grab your rehearsal calendar from this year and count. Go ahead, I’ll wait!
(insert timely pause).
Amazing, isn’t it? This is why music kids have such a bond. This is why friends made through your ensemble often turn out to be life-long friends. This is why we remember students and they remember us, long after our time together has ended. This, among many other reasons, is why this activity matters so much!
Whether this friendship calendar was by design or happenstance is irrelevant. The activity of doing something together that they love (making music) provides students with an opportunity for connection and closeness that is becoming increasing rare in our schools and even rarer in greater society. Through experiences, facilitated by music, kids are making more than melodies, they are making memories! And if you believe these studies, they are doing so in a fashion that can be more than life changing, they can be life saving.
Have a great week,