Yet even as we extol it, the technology we rely on is undermining it.Further perspective comes in an article bluntly titled “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Twenge, a San Diego State University psychologist who researches adolescent mental health.
I was not surprised to hear teenagers express a worried preoccupation with how they’re being presented and judged by their peers out there in cyberworld.
My wife is a middle-school counselor, and almost every day she tells me how drastically social media amplify the fraught dynamic of exclusion and judgment that is so often a pervasively excruciating force in adolescence.
(Girls seem to be especially hard hit.) But even more interesting to me was the comment, by the clinical director of an Oregon mental-health institute specializing in anxiety, that smartphones give teens what he called the “illusion of control and certainty,” enabling them to “manage the environments” of daily life.
“Teens will go places if they feel like they know everything that will happen, if they know everyone who will be there, if they can see who’s checked in online,” he said.
Of course not; and no one, least of all yours truly, is lamenting the widespread loss of, say, horse-shoeing skills, or celestial navigation—that whole basket of skills made obsolete by technological innovations.
But some new technologies are more disruptive than others—some, in fundamental social, personal and even cognitive categories.Apparently she’d been asking her mom about the sparkly stuff, because as I entered, the mom had just googled it on her smartphone and was delivering a tidy mini-lecture on the history, science, and cultural significance of glitter.I listened, and twenty seconds later, I left the elevator edified, via a small packet of information zapped up on the device Apple inaugurated a decade ago this fall.Twenge cites surveys that have posed a set of life-quality questions to high school seniors annually for the last forty years.“The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.” Twenge acknowledges that “no single factor ever defines a generation.” That said, she goes on: “It’s not an exaggeration to describe i Gen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.And it’s crystal clear that social media have been crucial—a simple hashtag gets launched on Twitter, and a global movement for social justice is unleashed. I’m a smartphone refusenik, and a vehement one at that.