If adults can’t handle smartphone technology, how could kids possibly stand a chance? Despite this, and despite the fact that it seems highly questionable to hand an immature young person what is essentially a very expensive portable Internet porn finder/social-media stalking system/mean girls text center, American kids are getting smartphones at earlier and earlier ages. The average age of acquisition, in fact, is currently ten years old.
It’s not working out well. Writing in the September issue of The Atlantic, Jean Twenge — the author of a new book on today’s “super-connected kids” — argues that smartphones and children can make for a disastrous combination. “Between 2010 and 2016, the number of adolescents who experienced at least one major depressive episode leapt by 60%,” she notes. Suicide deaths among young people, she writes, have also “risen sharply.”
A survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse uncovered a likely culprit in these distressing trends. “The results could not be clearer,” Twenge notes. “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.” This seems, by the way, to be true for adults as well.