The Need

The relationship with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we have.

The emergence of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of the lives of young adults. Social media rapidly wreaked havoc on the iGeneration, creating unforeseen deficiencies in self-worth and people skills. They live in a digital world that generations before have not experienced. Texting, Facetiming, and online dating apps have replaced in-person communication, hanging out in real life, and traditional dating. "Liking" someone's posts is the new "Do you like me?...Check Yes or No" note that was passed in middle school. These new behaviors are happening in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. These trends are here to stay. PACT meets young people where they are. We transfer valuable people skills to the online space. Our mission is to awaken the power of self-worth and cultivate lifelong tools that strengthen relationships, on and offline.

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Young people ages 16-24 are the most digitally-native generation, yet. From the time of their birth, the internet and cell phones were commonplace. This "i-Generation" has never known a world without smartphones! According to research, 92% of this population is online daily and spends between six and nine hours absorbing media. Although being wired has its advantages, recent findings report it's negative implications on human behavior. Young people are acquiring "followers" from all over the world via social media. The concern is not social media use, but young people's ability to make authentic connections from behind the screen. This generation has been left to their own devices (pun intended) to learn and integrate interpersonal skills. Recent studies prove that they are struggling.

According to the Atlantic, the more time young people spend on line, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Facebook promises to connect us to friends, yet high school and college students are feeling lonely and left out, which impacts mental wellbeing. One researcher discovered that 85% of humans are affected by low self-worth. That means 4 out of 5 humans are feeling "less than" in some area of their lives - socially, personally or professionally. Those with low self-worth feel unlovable, awkward, incompetent or all of the aforementioned. Such negative self-perceptions create a very harsh inner voice. Negative self-talk affects our behavior and choices. Research proves that self-worth influences the quality of our relationships with ourselves and others.

Social media feeds are overflowing with hashtags, such as #SelfLove, #BodyPositive, #Love, #SexPositive, #MeToo, #Like4Like and comments, like "Love It!", "Beautiful", "I love My Bestie!", Be You!". The language has become so common that these expressions sound futile and insincere. Similarly, YouTube is filled with random, uncontrolled content, while sitcoms, movies and streaming service series often subscribe to a traditional, hetero-normative script. Young people are bombarded with inconsistent messages from a variety of sources, including home, which makes it extremely difficult to find their true selves and be happy. As a result, we are finding higher rates of depression, isolation, lack of community, and less intimacy among teens and young adults.

Young people today are faced with more challenges than those of generations before, courtesy of social media. Studies show that technology is having emotional implications that have long-term effects. The excessive media consumption is linked to less happiness, less social skills, less sense of community (FOMO is Real!), and less mental stability. All of these issues intersect and contribute to low self-worth, which directly impacts positive relationships with others. To illustrate, imagine that you like a friend of a friend's post on Instagram. This friend of a friend likes your post, in return. The back and forth continues and escalates to random comments, then direct messages. After several weeks, you are emotionally invested in the exchange. You feel thrilled and excited at the possibility of where this may go. Then, the friend of a friend ghosts you. You are wondering what happened and probably feel sad, disappointed, and frustrated. Yet, you lack the communication skills to express your distress. No one has taught you the value of self-worth and the art of assertive communication. PACT fills this void.

PACT delivers on its promise to guide young people through the muck so they may find their authentic self on the other side.

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Apply for our Marian B. Petersen Memorial Scholarship by May 15th!