Since the new German government put together its new cabinet in December 2021, a number of changes have already been discussed and big speeches have been made. Of course, the topic of digitalization should not be left out of the equation either. Social media will play a central role in this, as they have been repeatedly criticized in recent years by data protectionists such as expert Alexander Robnagel. Robnagel now hopes for stricter laws for Facebook, Instagram and Co. In addition, topics such as loneliness are becoming more relevant due to digitalization, especially in Generation Z.
Imbalance between corporations and users
According to a report in the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Alexander Robnagel sees the imbalance between corporations and users as a major shortcoming in the legislation. Companies like Meta already have a lot of information at their disposal that users don’t actually want to give out. Many users also continue to lack awareness of their own data. Consumers should therefore not be the only ones responsible for data protection. Instead, experts are calling for solutions to be regulated by law. What these will look like exactly, however, has not yet been formulated in concrete terms. Robnagel also recommends that the collected data of large corporations be made available to science in an anonymized form. Here they would z. B. Be extremely useful for the development of artificial intelligences, whose machine learning is based on analyzing large amounts of data.
Social media influence Gen Z
But it’s not just data protection that worries the experts. The impact of daily media consumption on social networks is also repeatedly addressed. This primarily affects Generation Z, which is made up of those born between 1997 and 2012. According to a study by ExpressVPN, people in their 20s are said to be particularly influenced by the consumption of digital and social media. For many in this generation, platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook play a significant role in finding their own identity, self-confidence and sense of happiness. Newer apps like TikTok are said to be used for this on average even more than one hour per day. This of course increases the focus on virtual communication, direct interaction with other people decreases. It is no surprise that feelings of loneliness are intensified by this. So far, however, there have been no proposals from the German government on how people can be protected from excessive consumption of social media, because legal restrictions are relatively difficult to implement in this regard.
Loneliness and social media
Although the world has become increasingly connected through digitalization, making it much easier to communicate even over long distances, the issue of loneliness seems to be becoming more present for many people. According to an article in the Tagesspiegel, the reason for this could be the lack of direct contact. However, platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok are not solely responsible for this. While conversations on social media are often only in writing, in everyday life many encounters with other people are reduced. Even in supermarkets, there is an increasing use of self-service checkouts, in some restaurants people order by tablet at the table, all errands and purchases can be done online. Preventing loneliness in all age groups should therefore also become a topic for the new federal government. However, more emphasis will have to be placed on offers instead of bans.
Digitization and, in particular, social media continue to pose major challenges for the government. Among other things, the focus will be on data protection, which experts say has not been regulated strongly enough by law to date. But issues such as how social media affects self-worth, self-perception and happiness are also being explored in studies and are expected to have a strong impact on Generation Z in particular. In addition, loneliness is a major challenge in times of digitalization. How the new federal government masters these hurdles will be exciting in the future!