For Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at the University of San Diego, United States, the combination of smartphones / social networks shapes teenagers today, born after 1995. They are called "IGen", a more homelike, more immature generation and more exposed to mental health problems.
What is the Genealogy?
This is the first generation that has lived through its adolescence during smartphone lifespan, which results in many outcomes in greener life.
They spend their free time in a crucial way of previous generations. They spend much more time on the internet, on social networks, playing video games, watching videos, and spending much less time doing activities away from the screen like reading, sleeping or seeing their friends. They grow slower: at age 18 they tend less to have a driving license, job, dating, drinking alcohol, going out without their parents …
This trend had already started in the front, in the late 1990's, with "millennials", and while technology does not explain everything, it seems that the smartphone has accelerated some trends in recent years, it's similar because young people can communicate With their friends staying at home, they do not feel they need a driving license or go out on their own.
So, it's probably the latest and most secure generation in history and young people love this idea. But they also feel that something is missing and the best way of life may not always be associated with their phone. They also hate talking to a friend that they are constantly looking at their phone.
You have investigated the behavior and health of millions of teenagers. What have you seen?
When we study generation changes over long periods, we see that they take a long time to be visible, for example, one or two decades. But starting in 2011/2012, I started to see more sudden changes, such as a large increase in adolescent numbers that said they felt themselves or were excluded or who believed they could not do anything right, that their life was useless, all classic symptoms of depression.
The symptoms of depression have increased by 60% in only five years, with self-harm rates, such as cutting, doubling or even tripling in women, and suicide in the adolescent that has doubled in a few years …
Only when smartphones become common, when the proportion of Americans with one has exceeded 50%, these mental health problems began to disclose themselves. It could be said that this is just a coincidence, but there was no other incident at that time to explain these and acceleration changes.
And we know that, after decades of research, sleeping or seeing friends is fundamental for thinking balance, but spending hours and hours ahead of a screen, number.
Today, teenagers spend six to eight hours a day on social networks. The problem is not the own screens, that's because they have replaced other things, and it seems that they have led to these mental health problems.
What advice would you give to the parents?
In short, this is good news because many things that happiness and mental health rely on are now under our control. We can not change the genes we were born or solve poverty with a meat of fingers, but we can control how we spend our free time and we can help our children do that.
The studies recommend social networking restrictions up to two hours a day for teenagers. There is a good balance to take advantage of social networks and smart phone (communicating, informing, organizing …) without the inconvenience, which is really.
For the little ones, if we think we need a phone, we can give it a phone without the Internet and, therefore, without all those frauds.