Research reported in The Atlantic Monthly, which makes the compelling case that smartphones may be destroying a generation, is must-read for any educator concerned about threats to the future success of K-12 education.
Here are some striking quotes about the deleterious effects of the smartphone on what the author calls iGen (i.e., those born between 1995 and 2012):
- The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.
- Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.
- The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015; the decline has been especially steep recently…The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.
- 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…All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.
- Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements “A lot of times I feel lonely,” “I often feel left out of things,” and “I often wish I had more good friends.” Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.
- The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.
Now, the two questions — neither trivial — facing every parent and educator: What to do? How to do it?