Smartphones have reached a critical mass in the teen population, leaving social destruction in their wake, according to a long-read in the September issue of The Atlantic.
Highlights from Jean M. Twenge's sobering article, which focuses on the generation that followed millennials, called iGen:
- Teens are dating less: "[O]nly about 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; for Boomers and Gen Xers, the number was about 85 percent."
- Their maturity is stunted: "Across a range of behaviors—drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised— 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds."
- They have more free time, but waste it: "Combined with the decline in working for pay, this means iGen teens have more leisure time than Gen X teens did, not less. ... They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed."
- They don't hang out with their friends: "The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015..."
- Teen murder is down, but suicide is up: "Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide ... Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased."
- And girls are the hardest hit: "48 percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. ... Three times as many 12-to-14-year-old girls killed themselves in 2015 as in 2007, compared with twice as many boys."
Why it matters: "Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy. ... There's not a single exception."