Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kids and Smart Phones

Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, really knows how to push her latest book, “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood”. In the past two days I've read two lengthy articles by her summarizing the book. And the articles appeared in The Atlantic and Conversation

The book studies kids born in 1995 and later, who now are "the first generation to spend their adolescence with a smartphone". That has made a lot of difference in their lives. Two out of three U.S. teens own an iPhone.They participate in social activities at a significantly lower rate than their millennial predecessors. 

She references a lot of studies. Some of which make one depressed: 

  • Depression, anxiety, and loneliness have shot upward since 2012, with happiness declining. 
  • The teen suicide rate increased by more than 50 percent, as did the number of teens with clinical-level depression. 
  • Sixth graders who spent just five days at a camp without using screens ended the time better at reading emotions on others. 
  • They read books, magazines and newspapers much less than previous generations did as teens. In the annual Monitoring the Future survey, the percentage of high school seniors who read a nonrequired book or magazine nearly every day dropped from 60 percent in 1980 to only 16 percent in 2015. Perhaps as a result, average SAT critical reading scores have dropped 14 points since 2005. 

This isn’t to say that today's teens don’t have a lot going for them. They are physically safer and more tolerant than previous generations were. They also seem to have a stronger work ethic and more realistic expectations than millennials did at the same age. But the smartphone threatens to derail them before they even get started.

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