No, for once I am not stressing over the electromagnetic repercussions of the overuse of a smart phone, although I did come across the article through the EMF Refugee site. But this is about the psychological damage that, according American psychologist Jean Twenge, is being done to today’s teenagers by their addiction to their screens.
You can read Jean Twenge’s original article in The Atlantic here – although be warned that it is long. But the headline numbers were pulled out in the EMF Refugee article which had first appeared on a French site, Santé, Nature Innovation….
During the years, 2012 – 2015, the number of teenagers owning smartphones has risen from 2 in 5 to 4 in 5.
Over those years and across all strata of the teenage population (in the US), regardless of income, ethnic background etc:
- Depressive symptoms have increased by 50% for girls and 21% for boys between 2012 to 2015.
- The number of girls who committed suicide tripled between 2007 and 2015, and that of boys has doubled.
- The number of young people who see friends every day has dropped by 40% between the years 2000 and 2015.
- Currently, 16-year-olds are going out less than 12-year-olds did in 2009. They remain alone at home with their smartphones.
- In 2015, only 56% of the senior year students were “going out” with someone, compared to 85% of the young people ten years earlier, a figure that had been stable since the 1960s.
- The number of children who lack sleep has increased by 57% between the years 1991 and 2015.
- In spite of going out less often, the few times they do go out, they spend their time on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. Those who are not invited, therefore feel cruelly excluded: the number of girls feeling rejected and isolated has increased by 48% from 2010 to 2015 and the number of boys by 27%.
However, Twenge does suggest that maybe we have reached a peak and even the teenagers themselves may be starting (but only starting) to realise the their addiction to their phones may not be the unalloyed delight that they had once supposed.
8th January – this morning bring news that two of Apple’s largest share holders, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System who control around $2 billion’s worth of Apple shares – are now so worried about smartphone addiction that they are asking the company to consider developing software that would allow parents to limit children’s phone use.