I have a love/hate relationship with my smartphone so was compelled to read the article Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? that has been widely read and debated this week.
Through her research, Jean M. Twenge found that: “More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millenials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.”
She calls this new generation that has grown up with smartphones ‘iGen’ and there are some startling facts and figures about how they behave and feel.
“The portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation,” she says. “In the next decade, we may see more adults who know just the right emoji for a situation, but not the right facial expression.”
Whilst this article was interesting and somewhat shocking (though unsurprising if you’ve witnessed teens on smartphones), I found the response Yes, Smartphones Are Destroying a Generation, But Not of Kids by Alexandra Samuel more helpful and insightful.
She paints a less dire picture and asks us to “Consider another possible explanation for why our kids are increasingly disengaged. It’s because we’ve disengaged ourselves; we’re too busy looking down at our screens to look up at our kids.”
She suggests we stop paying attention to alarmist attacks on kids’ screen time and pay attention to our kids. Her research suggests the way forward is to: “Embrace our role as digital mentors: actively encouraging our kids to use technology, but offering ongoing support and guidance in how to use it appropriately.”
Sage advice, though it does feel as parents and/or adults, we’ve been sucked into the smartphone void as well and need to find ways to get it under control in our own lives first.