It’s Time to Take the Impact of Smartphones on Teens Seriously

From Jean Twenge at The Atlantic:

Plenty of data is cited in this informative, long piece reflecting the significant change in teenagers’ behavior and moods in the decade since smartphones hit the mainstream.

These bullet points from Charlie Bilello on Twitter are a terrific way to get the quick takeaways if you don’t have time for the full article.

A couple anecdotes that stuck out to me:

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness…If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen.

Also, older generations, even millennials, had it easier as teens because when we were alone, we didn’t know at that moment if our peers were doing some fun activity without us. Today, that is not the case:

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.

And even if you are the one at the party posting the cool pictures or videos on social media, anxiety is still present while you wait for approval of the post from your peers.

When Athena posts pictures to Instagram, she told me, “I’m nervous about what people think and are going to say. It sometimes bugs me when I don’t get a certain amount of likes on a picture.”

That is a tough environment for a young mind to comprehend and still maintain a positive disposition.