Articles on Societal and Cultural Change
The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today's teens. What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior?
It was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.
To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe "the iPhone Generation" as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones. Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation.Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.
What’s at stake isn’t just how kids experience adolescence. The constant presence of smartphones is likely to affect them well into adulthood. Among people who suffer an episode of depression, at least half become depressed again later in life. Adolescence is a key time for developing social skills; as teens spend less time with their friends face-to-face, they have fewer opportunities to practice them. In the next decade, we may see more adults who know just the right emoji for a situation, but not the right facial expression.
Read the article. Towards the end, please note the stark stats on "Not hanging out with friends, In no rush to drive, less dating, and less sex, more likely to feel lonely, less likely to get enough sleep".