Thursday , July 29 2021

Smartphones raising a mentally fragile generation

The professor of psychology at San Diego State University, Jean Twenge, believes that smartphones and social networks raise an unhappy and compatible "iGen."

QUESTION: What is the iGen?

ANSWER: IGen is the generation born in 1995 and later, and is the first generation to spend all adolescence in the era of smart phones. They spend much more time online, social networks and playing games and spend less time on activities without screen reading books, sleeping or seeing their friends in face to face interactions.

These children are growing more slowly. At the age of 18, they are less likely to have a driver's license, work on paid work, go out on dates, drink alcohol or leave without parents compared to adolescents from previous generations.

Therefore, iGen is probably the safest generation in history and likes that idea of ​​feeling safe.

Still, they also have the feeling that they are losing something. Understanding that staying on the phone all the time is probably not the best way to live. You do not like them when you are talking to a friend and your friend is looking at your phone.

Many of them also have an acknowledgment of the disadvantages of this type of life.

QUESTION: Search the behavior and health of millions of teens. What have you observed

ANSWER: About 2011 and 2012, I began to see more subject changes to teens, such as large increases of adolescents who feel alone or set aside, or who could not do anything right, that their life was not useful, what they are classic symptoms of depression.

Depressive symptoms rose 60 percent in just five years, with self-harm rates such as the cut (themselves) that doubled or even tripled in girls. Teen suicide doubled in a few years.

Just as smart phones became commonplace, mental health problems began to appear. This change in the way adolescents spend time is so essential to mental health. We know from decades of research that sleeping and seeing friends in person is a good recipe for mental health and that looking at a screen for many hours a day is not.

QUESTION: What advice would you give to parents?

RESPONSIBILITY: Many of the things on which happiness and mental health depend are now under our control. We can not change the genes we are born and we will not solve poverty at night, but we can control how we spend our leisure time and we can help our children do the same.

Research points to limit the use of digital media use about two hours per day or less. That seems to be the sweet spot for mental health and happiness.

Be sure to use social networks to stay in touch with friends, help you plan things and watch a little video but keep it within this two-hour limit for people aged 13 to 18. Then get all the benefits of social networks and this technology without the great inconvenience of this.

If you think your child needs a phone, say that to go to school, you can get a "dumb" phone that has no internet and all the temptations of a smartphone.

Jean Twenge is an author whose works include "iGen" and "Generation Me".

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