My lovely significant other, Jules, stumbled upon an interesting article recently and sent it along my way. Featured in The Atlantic, the article is titled Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation? and was written by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University. You can read the article here.
The article discusses how the generation after the Millennials, which Twenge terms the “iGen,” spends less time together than their older peers did. They spend more time at home instead of going out, but this does not necessarily mean that they spend more time with their families. With this homebody mentality comes some positives: less reckless driving, less drug and alcohol use, and less teenage pregnancy. WAHOO! Twenge states, however, that today’s 18-year olds are more like the 15- year olds from past generations. And can you guess why teenagers are spending more time at home? Give us the answer, Al!
SMARTPHONES! Twenge’s article goes on to state how the excessive use of smartphones is diminishing human interaction and that teenagers today prefer chatting over their phones than in person. She quotes, “The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.” Twenge has written a book on this topic called iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us. I haven’t dived into the book myself yet, but I definitely plan on it.
As highlighted in Twenge’s book title, this lack of communication can mean a lack of preparedness for the consistent obstacles in adulthood. In a world that is seemingly becoming more and more divided, we can’t afford to have the kids of today, AKA the leaders of tomorrow, unable to communicate. Though Twenge’s concerns are valid, I think the smartphone epidemic expands beyond our younger compadres. We have young adults, old adults, poor people, rich people, and, dare I say, prominent leaders who seem to have no idea how to communicate and empathize. And some of these older folks did not grow up with the time-consuming technology that we have today.
With that said, it does make me wonder what the kids of today will be like in the future. Of course, as a young adult myself, I have grown up with my fair share of technology, but the findings with smartphone stimulus are strikingly different than past technological advances like the television or your desktop computer. For alas, now there is the iWall. “The iWall you say? Why, what is that!?” I see the iWall as an invisible wall one puts up when they take out their smartphone while conversing with you. Now, we can’t take this personally so much anymore. It has become such common practice that people spend more attention to likes on Facebook than catching up with an old friend. But the nonchalance doesn’t mean that it’s okay. History shows us countless examples of times when the thing the majority is doing isn’t the right thing. However, as Twenge states, “…the allure of the smartphone is often too much to resist.”
What do you think, friends? Do you think it’s important to be mindful with technology use? Or do you believe the smartphone is just the latest gadget like past technologies? Comment below!