But while any rise in depression or self-harm rates (including suicide) is worrying, even at these slightly higher rates, the vast majority of kids are doing all right. Indeed, plenty of indicators point in a positive direction since the smartphone era began. Teen pregnancy rates have plummeted 51 percent since 2007. The proportion of juveniles (ages 10-17) arrested annually has likewise dropped by more than 50 percent since 2007. With fewer young people experiencing these life-derailing events, the U.S. high school-graduation rate recently hit an all-time high.
There are many factors at work here, but it would be equally naïve to think there isn’t a screen-time relationship, too: When teens spend more time interacting online, rather than in person, they may not learn all the subtleties of interpersonal interaction, and they may be able to access some wretched content, but they aren’t doing problematic things with each other’s physical bodies either.