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Subject: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 2001 on 08/04/17 at 6:03 pm

Original headline: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? But I thought that was a bit sensationalist.

https://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/posts/2017/08/WEL_Twenge_iGen_Web_GraphsBlock_Revised/c42ed8709.jpg


Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.

he more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.

Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.

The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015; the decline has been especially steep recently. It’s not only a matter of fewer kids partying; fewer kids are spending time simply hanging out. That’s something most teens used to do: nerds and jocks, poor kids and rich kids, C students and A students. The roller rink, the basketball court, the town pool, the local necking spot—they’ve all been replaced by virtual spaces accessed through apps and the web.

You might expect that teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not. The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and designed to be nationally representative, has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 1991. The survey asks teens how happy they are and also how much of their leisure time they spend on various activities, including nonscreen activities such as in-person social interaction and exercise, and, in recent years, screen activities such as using social media, texting, and browsing the web. The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.

This doesn’t always mean that, on an individual level, kids who spend more time online are lonelier than kids who spend less time online. Teens who spend more time on social media also spend more time with their friends in person, on average—highly social teens are more social in both venues, and less social teens are less so. But at the generational level, when teens spend more time on smartphones and less time on in-person social interactions, loneliness is more common.

So is depression. Once again, the effect of screen activities is unmistakable: The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.

Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan. (That’s much more than the risk related to, say, watching TV.) One piece of data that indirectly but stunningly captures kids’ growing isolation, for good and for bad: Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased. As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.

hat’s the connection between smartphones and the apparent psychological distress this generation is experiencing? For all their power to link kids day and night, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out. Today’s teens may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly—on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. Those not invited to come along are keenly aware of it. Accordingly, the number of teens who feel left out has reached all-time highs across age groups. Like the increase in loneliness, the upswing in feeling left out has been swift and significant.

This trend has been especially steep among girls. Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. Girls use social media more often, giving them additional opportunities to feel excluded and lonely when they see their friends or classmates getting together without them. Social media levy a psychic tax on the teen doing the posting as well, as she anxiously awaits the affirmation of comments and likes.

Girls have also borne the brunt of the rise in depressive symptoms among today’s teens. Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50 percent—more than twice as much. The rise in suicide, too, is more pronounced among girls. Although the rate increased for both sexes, three times as many 12-to-14-year-old girls killed themselves in 2015 as in 2007, compared with twice as many boys. The suicide rate is still higher for boys, in part because they use more-lethal methods, but girls are beginning to close the gap.

It may be a comfort, but the smartphone is cutting into teens’ sleep: Many now sleep less than seven hours most nights. Sleep experts say that teens should get about nine hours of sleep a night; a teen who is getting less than seven hours a night is significantly sleep deprived. Fifty-seven percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. In just the four years from 2012 to 2015, 22 percent more teens failed to get seven hours of sleep.

The increase is suspiciously timed, once again starting around when most teens got a smartphone. Two national surveys show that teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 28 percent more likely to get less than seven hours of sleep than those who spend fewer than three hours, and teens who visit social-media sites every day are 19 percent more likely to be sleep deprived. A meta-analysis of studies on electronic-device use among children found similar results: Children who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly, and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day.

The correlations between depression and smartphone use are strong enough to suggest that more parents should be telling their kids to put down their phone. As the technology writer Nick Bilton has reported, it’s a policy some Silicon Valley executives follow. Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world.




There's a lot more at the link. I only copied about 20% of it for copyright reasons.

I feel like I dodged a bullet by getting out of school in 2010, right before the iPad came out.  The teenage world has completely changed since then :o

What are your thoughts on this?


Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: TheReignMan99 on 08/04/17 at 6:18 pm

It's true.

Smartphones have made society in general more miserable.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: wixness on 08/04/17 at 6:56 pm

Easy. Bring back the dumb or semi-smart Nokias (eg the Nokia N95) and let the internet companies throttle your speeds or cap your data to the point that you'll only want to use the computer for productive stuff. Or, close down your accounts and vow not to open one up again, like what I did for Tumblr, since I envied a lot of people that went on there.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: BornIn86 on 08/05/17 at 1:22 am


Easy. Bring back the dumb or semi-smart Nokias (eg the Nokia N95) and let the internet companies throttle your speeds or cap your data to the point that you'll only want to use the computer for productive stuff. Or, close down your accounts and vow not to open one up again, like what I did for Tumblr, since I envied a lot of people that went on there.


The only practical way for any of this to happen is through legislation and law enforcement...unless you're joking.  :)

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: HeyJealousy on 08/05/17 at 12:02 pm

Seems Ted Kaczynski had a point all along.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Philip Eno on 08/05/17 at 12:13 pm

Being on the mobile phones all the time is taking away their social skills!

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: wixness on 08/05/17 at 12:36 pm


The only practical way for any of this to happen is through legislation and law enforcement...unless you're joking.  :)

That's what's happening right now - they're making it even more expensive for us to communicate and consume content online what with them planning to remove net neutrality.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/05/17 at 2:35 pm


It's true.

Smartphones have made society in general more miserable.


I see it almost every day walking down the street.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/05/17 at 2:36 pm


Being on the mobile phones all the time is taking away their social skills!



and face to face conversations.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: HazelBlue99 on 08/06/17 at 1:57 am

Well I can personally say that smartphones have not made me miserable in any way, as I very rarely use my phone as it is. I know you can point the finger at parents for not monitoring their child's and/or adolescent's usage of electronic devices, but I think the responsibility needs to be placed on the individual as well. They choose to use their smartphone and access these sites. People need to realise that there is more to life than just sharing a photo on Snapchat or posting on Facebook.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: LyricBoy on 08/06/17 at 6:42 am



and face to face conversations.


Yep. Three kids standing at the bus stop. Instead o talking to each other, all three have their noses in their "smart" phones.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/06/17 at 6:57 am


Well I can personally say that smartphones have not made me miserable in any way, as I very rarely use my phone as it is. I know you can point the finger at parents for not monitoring their child's and/or adolescent's usage of electronic devices, but I think the responsibility needs to be placed on the individual as well. They choose to use their smartphone and access these sites. People need to realise that there is more to life than just sharing a photo on Snapchat or posting on Facebook.


or stupid Twitter followers.  ::)

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/06/17 at 7:04 am


Yep. Three kids standing at the bus stop. Instead of talking to each other, all three have their noses in their "smart" phones.


http://www.gaiahealthblog.com/wordpress1/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/cellphone8.jpg

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7466/16297638252_4a5cb66785.jpg

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Philip Eno on 08/07/17 at 6:23 am


Yep. Three kids standing at the bus stop. Instead o talking to each other, all three have their noses in their "smart" phones.
I have noticed many a time, mothers walking with their young children, not talking to them, just talking of texting on the mobile phone, with no sign of building speech or vocal skills.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: KatanaChick on 08/07/17 at 8:36 am


Well I can personally say that smartphones have not made me miserable in any way, as I very rarely use my phone as it is. I know you can point the finger at parents for not monitoring their child's and/or adolescent's usage of electronic devices, but I think the responsibility needs to be placed on the individual as well. They choose to use their smartphone and access these sites. People need to realise that there is more to life than just sharing a photo on Snapchat or posting on Facebook.

The people I see who can't put their phones down aren't in their teens. They're middle aged and their phones are an extension of them.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: SpyroKev on 08/07/17 at 9:51 am

This is interesting to me.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Sir Rothchild on 08/07/17 at 11:52 am

I don't feel miserable with my phone, since I don't use it that much. But the culture of people using smartphones way too much, along with older people generalizing teens my age as being glued to their phones really make me miserable. Same with the fact that people still generalize the late 2000s as the iPhone era pisses me off, since not a lot of people even used it at the time.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 80sfan on 08/07/17 at 12:25 pm

Explains why I'm sad.  :(  :(  :(

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/07/17 at 3:21 pm


I have noticed many a time, mothers walking with their young children, not talking to them, just talking of texting on the mobile phone, with no sign of building speech or vocal skills.


I've seen it too.  ::)

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: KatanaChick on 08/09/17 at 11:12 am


I don't feel miserable with my phone, since I don't use it that much. But the culture of people using smartphones way too much, along with older people generalizing teens my age as being glued to their phones really make me miserable. Same with the fact that people still generalize the late 2000s as the iPhone era pisses me off, since not a lot of people even used it at the time.

I can easily ignore my phone too, unless I get in a mood to upload to Instagram when there's something that just can't wait.  :-[ I don't recall many iPhones being used in the 2000's at all. They're all the rage now.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Philip Eno on 08/09/17 at 11:48 am


I've seen it too.  ::)
Hyperactive children jumping from chair to chair in waiting rooms while their parents are texting or on FB?

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 80sfan on 08/09/17 at 12:37 pm

Maybe they should get out more! http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Philip Eno on 08/09/17 at 12:43 pm


Maybe they should get out more! http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png http://www.kanyetothe.com/forum/Smileys/default/HWaQd6Z.png
Without the mobile phones!

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 80sfan on 08/09/17 at 1:08 pm


Without the mobile phones!


And laptops.  :(

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: violet_shy on 08/09/17 at 1:15 pm

There should be a Mobile phone free day every month. When everyone can shut off their phones and enjoy some hobbies or leisure time. I think that would help everyone become less miserable. But, I think this is just a dream. ::)

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 2001 on 08/09/17 at 2:34 pm

I usually listen to an audiobook on the bus/train, but sometimes I text my friends too.

In the Toronto subway, there's no cellphone service in some tunnels (and before 2014, there was no service at all). I always hated it, but maybe it's for the best. ;D

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/09/17 at 3:39 pm


Hyperactive children jumping from chair to chair in waiting rooms while their parents are texting or on FB?



even on public transportation too.  ::)

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/09/17 at 3:40 pm


There should be a Mobile phone free day every month. When everyone can shut off their phones and enjoy some hobbies or leisure time. I think that would help everyone become less miserable. But, I think this is just a dream. ::)



That would be a good idea.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: TheReignMan99 on 08/09/17 at 3:45 pm

Even though, they grew up in a world without smartphones....some of my friends say that they "would die if I had to be without my smartphone for a day". It makes me sad to see them say that but...the world is moving in that way and most people don't want to stop it :-\\.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 2001 on 08/09/17 at 5:23 pm


Even though, they grew up in a world without smartphones....some of my friends say that they "would die if I had to be without my smartphone for a day". It makes me sad to see them say that but...the world is moving in that way and most people don't want to stop it :-\\.


One time I went to school and left my phone at home, I think in 2013 or 2014. I felt so naked, like I was missing an organ, lol.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: TheReignMan99 on 08/09/17 at 5:49 pm


One time I went to school and left my phone at home, I think in 2013 or 2014. I felt so naked, like I was missing an organ, lol.

I have gone a few days without using my smartphone or without being able to use it and it took time to get used to but I didn't die and it was actually freeing a bit..though I did get bored more often :P.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: wixness on 08/09/17 at 7:11 pm

What if your personal projects involve technology, like coding or sharing professional grade photography?

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/10/17 at 7:26 am


Even though, they grew up in a world without smartphones....some of my friends say that they "would die if I had to be without my smartphone for a day". It makes me sad to see them say that but...the world is moving in that way and most people don't want to stop it :-\\.



It's getting to the point where people can't live without their devices.  ::)

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Philip Eno on 08/10/17 at 11:39 am



It's getting to the point where people can't live without their devices.  ::)
btw, I can easily live without one, but there will be a time when I have to have instant contact wherever I am.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Howard on 08/10/17 at 1:07 pm


btw, I can easily live without one, but there will be a time when I have to have instant contact wherever I am.



You're going to definitely need it at that moment.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: Philip Eno on 08/10/17 at 1:15 pm



You're going to definitely need it at that moment.
My family are working out what will be the best phone for me.

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: 2001 on 08/10/17 at 7:14 pm


What if your personal projects involve technology, like coding or sharing professional grade photography?


That's me. ;) My smartphone improved my life considerably. I don't do much social media with it. Rarely open Instagram, almost never open Facebook proper (only Messenger), don't use Snapchat. I have Twitter and I read it often, but I follow fellow language learners/bloggers, gamers and tech people, not socialites or celebrities or even my real-life friends. ;D

Subject: Re: Smartphones are making teens miserable

Written By: wixness on 08/10/17 at 7:25 pm


That's me. ;) My smartphone improved my life considerably. I don't do much social media with it. Rarely open Instagram, almost never open Facebook proper (only Messenger), don't use Snapchat. I have Twitter and I read it often, but I follow fellow language learners/bloggers, gamers and tech people, not socialites or celebrities or even my real-life friends. ;D

I just need my phone for emails and media. Gave up on the gaming deal now since most mobile games look and feel like 2D desktop flash games.

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