The Rise of The Smartphone

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In Happier No Matter What, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar tells us:

“Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State University, conducted extensive research exploring teenagers’ mental health levels. What she found was frightening. Between 2012 and 2017, levels of loneliness went up by close to 30 percent among teenagers. Depression went up by more than 30 percent. Suicide rates went up by over 30 percent. This is all in just five years, constituting massive and unprecedented change. The question is, why? Why have rates of depression, loneliness, and suicide gone up so significantly in such a short period of time? Twenge combed through the data and identified the culprit: the rise of the smartphone. Kids were looking at their devices rather than at the person sitting next to them, spending much more time online than with people they cared about in real life.”

“New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg pointed out that ‘The greater the proportion of online interaction [versus face-to-face interaction] the lonelier you are.’ Loneliness, as you might expect, erodes health and happiness. Among other things, it is associated with depression, heart disease, and a weaker immune system. As appealing as online interactions are, we sometimes need to disconnect in order to connect.

This is crazy: “Between 2012 and 2017, levels of loneliness went up by close to 30 percent among teenagers. Depression went up by more than 30 percent. Suicide rates went up by over 30 percent. This is all in just five years, constituting massive and unprecedented change.”

Why? “the rise of the smartphone. Kids were looking at their devices rather than at the person sitting next to them, spending much more time online than with people they cared about in real life.”

Digging further into the data you also see getting together with friends tanked, self-competence tanked, hours of sleep tanked, FOMO or feeling left out increased dramatically, and these negative impacts are almost entirely in teen girls. In fact, when you look at the graphs feeling left out was much more of a female than male issue. Here again, we see social comparisons toxic effects on well-being.

Gallup: teen girls vs teen boys and depression

Jean Twenge’s: iGen Ted Talk

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