Smartphone era leads to more depressed teens and suicides

It is hard to say exactly when the smartphone era began. Some will point to January 9th, 2007 when Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first version of the Apple iPhone. Keep in mind that smartphones had been available well before the unveiling of Apple's iconic handset. Some will say that the start of the smartphone era took place on July 10th, 2008 with the launch of the Apple App Store. The App Store really opened up these devices that users were purchasing, and helped give consumers a focus on what they wanted their phones to do.

While the rise of the smartphone has allowed drivers to get from point "A" to point "B" without getting lost, or has reminded countless people to take their medications on time or not to miss an appointment, there has been a downside to all of this constant reminding. According to a report in The Atlantic, adolescents growing up in the smartphone era are more prone to suffering through fits of depression and having thoughts of suicide. The author of the Atlantic piece, Jean M. Twenge, puts those born between 1995 and 2012 into a group she calls iGen. These are the people who have never had to live without an internet connection in their lives, and they are even more depressed than Millennials. Twenge puts the blame clearly on the tool of the iGen category which is the smartphone.

Part of the problem is that the iGen group connect to their friends and peers digitally. And the more they use their smartphones, the more those in the iGen category start feeling more uneasy with real human touch. A 13-year old minor girl with the anonymous handle of  Athena has owned an iPhone since she was 11. "We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people," she says. And that could be the irony of this period of electronics. As we get closer to staying connected to people 24/7,  we find out that we really don't like people.

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The magazine quotes some interesting stats. Eight graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 times more likely to be unhappy than others their age who use social media less. Those spending six to nine hours a week on social media are 47% more likely to be unhappy than those who use social media less. The data does work the other way. Those spending an above average amount of time with friends are 20% less likely to be unhappy.

So for those who fit in the iGen category, keep this simple rule in mind. "The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression." Whether you're a parent of an iGen teen or you are an iGen teen, this is an important thing to know.
source: TheAtlantic

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