A New Way of Life
Smartphones and technology are without a doubt changing what the future will look like. Jean Twenge talks about the affects smartphones have on young teens and adolescents in her article “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”. With the newest generation becoming glued to their phones and having less and less face-to-face interaction, their behavior is changing dramatically. Jean talks about the increased suicide rates, lack of motivation, and little to no social life among today’s teens. While smartphones were intended to be useful and convenient devices for everyone to use, they have turned into a major distraction and are changing the entire lifestyle of a generation’s in a negative way.
Jean talks about the behavior in the iGen generation, which is her nickname for today’s generation. Before smartphones were found in almost every child’s hand, teens spent there time meeting up with each other and having face-to-face conversations. Teens would go places to make friends and hang out with other people. Movie theaters and roller rinks were the places to be. Pretty much anywhere away from their parents was their favorite place to be. Teens were in a rush to get their driver's license as soon as possible. They wanted freedom and rushed to become an adult. Dating among teens was almost expected among these teens. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, around 80 percent of teenagers went on physical dates.
iGen teens live a little differently. They would rather stay at home and scroll through social media to see how everyone is feeling or what they were doing. Texting friends is better than actually meeting up with them. Laying in bed and staring at a screen is the typical night of a iGen teen. There is no rush to get a license because there is no need to drive somewhere when everyone can talk to each other on their phones in their own homes. There is no urge to leave the house and get away from parents. Or when a iGen teen does leave the house, his or her parents are more willing to take them where they want to go. So there is no rush to get a license when parents will be a personal chauffeur and there are no required expenses like gas or typical maintenance. Dating has also changed with this generation. Terms like “talking” are fairly new and it essentially means that two people who are interested in each other text each other for awhile instead of actually going on a physical date and getting to know each other in person.
This new generation is much different than the baby boomers and Gen X. Since the release of the iPhone, teenagers rarely leave their house without their parents. iGen teens would rather scroll through social media in the protection of their own home than go out and meet friends and watch a movie or go to the movies.
With smartphones being a major part in life now, the lack of physical interaction teens have with each other is raising the question; are smartphones and social media making people more sad? Teens often lay alone in their bed and begin to feel more lonely than when they leave the house and do something. Seeing what your other friends are doing together on social media can make a teen feel as if they are lonely or being left out. The intent of the iPhone was to bring people together and make communication easier, however, due to the usage of social media teens are seeing what events or parties they were not invited to and who all was invited. Smartphones are making people feel more lonely and left out than teens did in previous generations.
It is incredibly easy to sit behind a phone screen and say demeaning, awful things about other people on social media, or just messaging in general. Cyberbullying has dramatically increased as smartphones and social media begin to become more popular. Boys tend to bully or resolve their situations physically where girls are more likely to take their issues online. Suicide rates among 12-to-14 year old girls has increased three times the amount it was from 2007 to 2015. Girls are more likely to bully someone while sitting behind a phone screen than they are to fight or bully that someone in person. These teens will sometimes attack each other’s profiles or sometimes use a fake profile to attack the individual. Smartphones are allowing this issue and it is growing and growing everyday.
Allowing teens of the iGen generation to use these smartphones so often are not only hurting others but also it is hurting themselves.During the teenage years, the brain is in a crucial time of development. Smartphones are encouraging teens to stay at home and use it’s features instead of going out and being social. In Jean’s article, one teen talks about how even when she does go out and talk with her friends, sometimes they do not even listen to her when she is trying to talk. “I could be talking about something super important to me, and they wouldn’t even be listening.” Smartphones are not only making today’s teens more antisocial, but when teens do go out, ,they still cannot keep their eyes off of their phones and listen to what is going on around them.
Sleep plays a crucial part in having a healthy life. Teens who spend more time doing homework, playing sports, participating in clubs, or even just getting out of the house to meet with friends are more likely to get more than seven hours of sleep a night than teens who spend most of their day on electronics. Smartphones may be convenient but they are cutting into teens’ sleep. Studies show that almost every owner of a smartphone sleeps with their phone within arms reach. Teens will look at their phone right before they go to sleep and then will also look at their phone almost as soon as they wake up. One student claims, “Having my phone closer to me while I’m sleeping is a comfort.” Some students call it similar to an addiction and say, “I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it.” Teens need their phone to be by them while sleeping almost as if it is an extension of their body. Sleep experts say that teens should get about nine hours of sleep most nights and that teens who get less than seven hours are significantly sleep deprived. 57 percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. The usage of smartphones are dangerously damaging teens’ health.
In her article, Jean Twenge made a great number of valid and reasonable points as to why smartphones are ruining a generation. Depression, bullying, sleep deprivation, and the feeling of left out are serious causes due to the introduction of smartphones into teens’ lives. iGen teens are not living healthy lifestyles and the damage can all be traced back to smartphones. Social skills are very important to be successful in life and sitting in front of a phone or computer screen for most of a childhood will lead to social awkwardness for the rest of that child’s life. Skills are learned at an early stage in life and will not be learned the proper way when a smartphone is put in a child’s hand at a young age. Smartphones are ruining the new generation and, although they look flashy and have cool capabilities, their use should be limited for children and teens.
Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 19 Mar. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/.