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    Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    challenge posed by Andy Nash 283 days 6 hours 29 minutes ago

    Category: Technology
    Challenge Forum

    Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Apple just recently announced the October release of the iPhone X. At the same time, a San Diego State psychology professor Jean Twenge, reveals her findings in The Atlantic arguing that smartphones may be destroying what she calls the “igen” generation (born 1995-2012) of teens both mentally and emotionally. Crunching a lot of data, she shows strong correlations between increased phone usage and stark drops in dating, interest in driving, and going out with friends as per prior generations. She summarizes that the overall onset of adulthood is starting on average 2-3 or more years later than prior generations. She also points out that kids are more disengaged from their families and parents despite spending more time at home, in one’s room on the phone. The combination of more time on social media (more prevalent for girls than boys), more screen time, and overall time spent on the phone/pad/tablet correlate with increased reports of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

    For many, these findings only confirm what many have believed all along from everyday observation. But now there are sets of data that are studied. Still there are skeptics as with anything who will argue that the trends aren’t necessarily different from past generations who didn’t grow up with smartphones. You’ll hear: “That’s what they said about TV, and then video games, then the internet, now social media and smartphones”. In fact, one Article shows that most time spent on the phone for many is to just listen to music, play games or watch TV or videos.
    But is it all real this time, more so than ever before?

    Should parents take their kids’ phones away? Many would say that’s not the right answer, and that it’d probably be impossible anyway given how everything from education to all communication is done through it. Do you agree with Tenge’s argument? And if so, what would you do to solve the problem? What would you do to diversify your kids’ social, physical and emotional environment to ensure they try to get a healthy balance of life, rather than obsessing over every single post, tweet, like, comment, etc. on their phones 24/7?

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Howdy Andy,

    I do believe smartphones are depressing and destroying teens. I do not believe parents should take their kid's phones away, but instead promote more time away from the phone. So much of today's world relies on social media so taking that away from a teen isn't going to set them up for success.

    I know for me, I hate it when I go out and everyone is on their phone all of the time. It is fine to take it out every now and again, but not the entire time. I think devices can create a disconnect with what is going on around you, you get absorbed in the device instead of truly experiencing the world. We all need a healthy balance in our life and right now we do not have that. It is no wonder depression rates are sky-rocketing with the way things are.

    I would limit the amount of time my kid spends on their devices. It would be allowed, just sparingly. There are plenty of things you can do to make it so a device will stop working after a certain usage threshold is met. Necessary programs will always work, but the rest will no longer. I think this will help set a precedence for the future in maintaining control of how long a person uses a device and how they use a device in adulthood.

    Thanks for reading!

    ~Tera~

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hey Andy!

    I do agree to the fact that smartphones are depressing and destroying teens. I don't think that taking phones away is a solution to the problem because everything we do in our lives now days relies on some type of electronic device. Whether it's school or work we do almost everything on the internet.

    I just wish that people were smart enough to schedule time to be healthy and exercise. Recently I have been trying to get in shape and stay as much as I can from my phone which is so impossible. I am intact in a long distance relationship and I am on my phone for hours and hours throughout the day. I am trying to break this habit and take time to exercise and eat healthy. I have stopped binge watching as well, which has been really great for my mind lately.

    The way to solve this issue is very challenging. I think the only way to break this habit is that in a room full of people lets say and everyone has their phone out. They should all put their phones away (or someone should collect it from them so they have no access to it) and actually start interacting with one another. I believe that when people start to have interesting conversations or talk about other entertaining stuff then they won't want to get on their phones. Phones are mostly used because one is board, they don't want to look odd in a place full of others, or because they are addicted.

    Real face to face Social interaction is slowly dying. Life used to be so much easier when kids went out to play and made friends and not on FB or Insta. LIFE was less stressful to be honest I really miss those days. I just really believe that using the phones for useful things won't cause depression.

    By the way the new IPHONE IS AWESOME AND I REALLY WANT IT LOL :)

    Thanks for the forum!
    Have a great day!
    ~NjBr

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hello Andy Nash!

    I agree with Twenge, but I do not think the issue starts or stops at smartphones. Because of technology children are becoming more dependent, lazy, less social and awkward, and weaker. I don't think the problem is only smartphone, but it is the development of technology and communication. When our parents or grandparents had to learn to fix their own car or vehicle, teens or young adults can easily take it to an autoshop. Where our elders are stronger and more flexible from working, walking, and running, millenials are thinner and weaker because of the ease of transportation.

    Everything technology has to offer is ruining this generation in one way or another. I think a simple solution is for parents to intervene in a way that children do not notice and rebel. For example, I think parents should be present in their children's lives more so children won't have their phone or laptop as their only entertainment. I also think parents should make their children busy so that they won't find the time to even sit on their phone or any electronic. For example, after school sports, then studying, then dinner and the day is done. A child whose day is full won't have to time to waste time, but instead will be engaged in activities that well help build the child's social and physical skills.

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Great question Andy,

    I feel like as with anything in this world, anything in moderation is okay. As far as smart phones go though, moderation is not even in the same book. I am 26 and have a 15 year old sister, and I must say when I am home and visiting her I can completely see first hand just how bad kids rely on technology. I took her to the movies and the whole time she was snap chatting and texting her friends, and even while the movie was going she was trying to take pictures of the screen. She constantly posts selfies on instagram and Facebook, and if she doesn't get enough likes on a picture she takes it down. A lot of the time she sits in her room by herself watching Netflix away from the family. When you are driving, I can promise you if you look around at other drivers, at least one person will be on their phone while driving! My least favorite thing is when you go out to eat and you see tables where everyone is on their phone and not enjoying each other's company, why even go out to eat?! Not all technology is bad, but you can really see the negative effects on today's youth.

    -Abby

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    This is a tricky question to answer. For one, correlation does not mean causation, and there could be other factors as to why teens are becoming more depressed and delaying what was expected of them a few generations back. I don't think that social media usage is that bad (as long as it's positive and not harmful in any way), but yes, it is concerning as to why someone might spend endless hours on social media. With research, there are a lot of questions, and this is perhaps just the first step in thinking about how social media usage has an impact on teenagers.

    Good forum!

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Smartphones are definitely making teens more depressed. And while the same has been said about TV and video games in the past, smartphones are a lot different. They are an all-in-one package. You can watch TV, play video games, and browse social media all on your smartphone. All of these activities are addictive, and with a smartphone you can easily switch from one activity to another, making it easy to just do all of these on your smartphone all day since they are readily available. It so easy for a teen to get addicted especially if they don't feel well or there aren't very many activities that appeal to them at school. It is a cycle. If a teen becomes depressed they use their phones to feel better, and then when they're not using their phones they feel depressed so then they will continue to use their phones again.

    There is not an easy way to solve this problem. Nowadays you see 5 year olds with tablets and smartphones, starting the addiction early. I believe that parents should set an age limit as to when to give their children smart devices. They are often used as substitutes for sitting down and interacting with their child. At a young age, children should be playing with toys instead of getting hooked on an addiction so early. Not until a child is maybe 10 or 11, even 13 should they get a smartphone.

    Also too, if a parent encourages their children to get involved in extracurricular activities, then at least they will be social and less likely to be on their phones so often. Kids need social interaction, not screen interaction. Always encourage kids to be social and to get off their phones. It is inevitable that a teen will find a way to use social media if they have a smartphone. Controlling your teen unreasonably is not the way to go, because in the end, they will lose respect for you.

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Andy, I have to say this is a big area of debate in my family. Have you seen the new commercial where the grandparents take everyone's phones when they walk in the door? I think my grandparents would be one of the first to implement this in their house. My parents are better because they are just as attached to their devices as my baby sister and I are.

    We often try to have "family time" when I happen to be home and we all sit in the same room staring at our devices. I think moderation is the key. Face-to-face interaction is a skill that we all need as we enter the workforce and the rest of our lives, so I believe too much time with phones in our hands can really limit communication skills. On the other hand, the world has gotten much smaller and it's so easy for us to communicate with our friends across the city, state, country or even world! Facetime and similar apps where you are actually talking to an image are better, but I find are mostly used just to avoid using cell minutes and data instead of talking to a person.

    I need to address the young children with phones though. My sister is only 8 years old and limiting her access to the internet is a big concern of mine. I see what's out there and how easy it is to stumble across videos and images that are not appropriate. Monitoring the sites and amount of time that your child is on the internet is pretty important. Video games and time that you're not accessing random information is not as big a concern in my opinion.

    -Kara

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hey Andy!

    I certainly agree with Twenge! The culture of today makes it impossible not to have a smart phone. People are getting smart phones for their children at younger and younger ages. They claim that it is for safety, but children are getting sucked into the stratosphere of apps, games, and distraction.

    I think that parents should take away their child's phone if they notice it beginning to negatively impact their child's life or performance in school. Why does a young child need a phone that is worth over $500 anyways? Kids should be more interested in playing than being on a smart phone. They should be using their imagination and getting dirty outside. They should be catching footballs, racing to the bus stop, and going to friends houses. I think that parents are very scared to allow their children to be outside now and they have every right to, with violence and terrible things going on in the world. However, children are losing out on the opportunity to explore their surroundings and learn from their peers.

    I personally did not get a smart phone until I was 18 years old. I was old enough to hopefully use the device responsibly. I feel that my generation was the very last to experience a true childhood. Even though I grew up in the beginning of the technological boom, I feel that I had a great childhood. I was not given any electronic devices until I was older. I had the chance to play outside, to get in trouble, and to make friends in person.

    Thank you for this forum! I think this forum will really help us all to think about how technology will affect new generations to come, and maybe in a negative way.

    Have a great day!

    Tom

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hi all!

    I agree and disagree with her statement. Although technology has definitely created problems on the mental, physical and social levels, it has also opened up so many doors. Information is constantly at our fingertips and for a species that is naturally inquisitive, this helps quench our thirst for knowledge. We are able to communicate with more people, faster and clearer than ever before. Information and ideas are constantly being exchanged, improved upon and explored. People have been able to learn about, understand and help so many other people through the internet. Knowledge of others' cultural differences is fundamental in understanding the motives behind each countries' actions.

    Taking phones away is probably not an option for this generation. We have become so accustomed to using our phones that I think it would be a literal culture shock to have them taken away. Hopefully, parents will instill values in this generation that appreciates the things outside of phones, such as the outdoors and family time. Most people usually do not appreciate having phones constantly out when they're together and this negative reaction will enforce the idea that phones are always acceptable.

    I personally didn't get a smart phone until about a year ago. I had a phone but all it did was call people. I think this has helped to decrease the attachment that is felt. I almost never use my phone for social media. I usually use my phone to keep track of my busy schedule as well as to text, email and call.

    I do not think that parents should take their phones away but I do think that parents should perhaps wait awhile before getting their kid a phone. Hopefully, by that time, they will learn to appreciate their phones and to use them in a responsible manner.

    I would also try to work on the double standard that a lot of people seem to have. They argue that having phones is distracting and limiting face to face interactions but then they happen to always be on their phone or will be the first in line to get the next, best and brightest phone.

    Thanks for the forum!

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hey Andy and CNET,

    Really great question. And to be completely honest, there is really no hard, solid answer as what we should do with this situation. For me personally, I believe the best solution is for parents to force rules and regulations when they decide to give one of their kids a phone, especially smartphone. And as a parent, you have to be strict about those rules and make sure that you enforce them all the time. In today's society, having a phone is very crucial. It is not just a way for kids to receive calls and texts from their parents and friends, it is also the way for them to learn about the world around them and education purposes in school, because a lot of school utilize the use of smartphone during a few of their lessons. So again, I do encourage parents to give their children a phone just because it is really necessary in today's world. But at the same time, it is up to you to decide how your kids going to utilize it, the harder your rules and regulations, the better the outcome will be for them. God bless and cheers!

    Best Regards,
    EgaHerlim

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hey Andy and CNET,

    Really great question. And to be completely honest, there is really no hard, solid answer as what we should do with this situation. For me personally, I believe the best solution is for parents to force rules and regulations when they decide to give one of their kids a phone, especially smartphone. And as a parent, you have to be strict about those rules and make sure that you enforce them all the time. In today's society, having a phone is very crucial. It is not just a way for kids to receive calls and texts from their parents and friends, it is also the way for them to learn about the world around them and education purposes in school, because a lot of school utilize the use of smartphone during a few of their lessons. So again, I do encourage parents to give their children a phone just because it is really necessary in today's world. But at the same time, it is up to you to decide how your kids going to utilize it, the harder your rules and regulations, the better the outcome will be for them. God bless and cheers!

    Best Regards,
    EgaHerlim

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hello!

    I definitely think all of this is true. This generation of kids are going crazy over technology. I am an intern in a 4th grade classroom and last year I was in a 2nd grade classroom. It is crazy how young kids are getting phones. In the county I am in, kids get their own "devices." They call them this but they are just smaller computers. In the school I was at last year, all the kids did during indoor recess was play on their devices. I am happy that this year my teacher does not allow them to be on their devices during recess. I think they need to learn how to interact with each other and build social skills.

    I was born in 1996 and I am on the upper end of this generation but I think it is different for me because the first smart phone did not come out until I was in 7th grade but barely anyone had them until I was in high school and even then, social media was just becoming prevalent.

    I do not think the answer is to take the phone away because that will just cause kids to rebel against their parents. I think the solution is to have scheduled family time and make sure you get the input of your kids rather than forcing them to do game night or something. We are just in a new day and age now and I don't think there are any real solutions to anything, we just have to find better ways to live this way.

    -Jessica

    Re: Are smartphones depressing and destroying teens?

    Hey Andy!

    I think that smartphones and increased technology are a great scapegoat to pin all of the problems facing our younger generations on.

    After reading Twenge's article, I can certainly agree that things like financial strains and over-protective parenting trends preventing young people from going out or getting jobs and seeking independence can lead to increased electronics use as well as depression and anxiety, but I think the smartphone is a symptom rather than a cause.

    I got my first smartphone when I was 19, but I had depression and anxiety long before that, depression since about the 9th grade and anxiety since I was able to think. It's true that I'l often retreat into my phone for comfort, but it hasn't caused or worsened any of my symptoms. A day in which I spend more time than usual on my phone is usually a day that my depression and anxiety are really bad.

    I think that each generation goes through things differently, and that younger generations face very unique challenges and are living in a time that is radically different from the times of generations prior to them, but a lot of these challenges are the endgame of an accumulation of factors partially caused by previous generations. All I can think when I see articles like this with only partially conclusive evidence by those outside of the generations that are experiencing these problems, I am instantly skeptical because blaming teens' love for tech for the problems they face is avoiding the responsibility of the real problems facing youth that put them in distress like climate change, skyrocketing tuition, a failing economy, and world-wide violence.

    Thanks for the topic!

    - Anna