When it comes to health risks, it doesn't get much worse than loneliness and social isolation. Research shows that loneliness is strongly correlated with risk of heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and lower longevity overall.
Unfortunately, this isn't a health risk that's going anywhere anytime soon. The rise of technology and social media has given people a false feeling of connectedness through likes and comments and has led to unexpected phenomena like teens having sex later because they're not actually spending time with peers (even when it feels like they are) and overall decreased social interaction.
"As a research psychologist, I have studied the impact of technology for 30 years among 50,000 children, teens, and adults in the U.S. and 24 other countries," writes Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills in an article in the Wall Street Journal. "In that time, three major game-changers have entered our world: portable computers, social communication, and smartphones. The total effect has been to allow us to connect more with the people in our virtual world—but communicate less with those who are in our real world."