The “iGen” (born 1995-2012) are at risk of serious mental health problems as said by Dr. Jean Twenge, an American Psychologist and Professor at San Diego State University.
The iGen is the generation who never lived without the Internet. Gone are the days where kids usually go outside to play. Today, children as young as a 10-year-old have smartphones. Certainly, smartphones are part of their daily routine: either used for texting, social media, or games.
What do the data show?
But are we just overreacting? Are we just comparing what we were doing to what they currently do? Dr. Jean Twenge beg to differ.
She has been studying generational differences for twenty-five years. Contrary to the highly individualistic generations, the iGen are shaped by the smartphone and social media trend.
They might seem to be happily connected to the world but the data says otherwise. According to the “Monitoring the Future Survey”, teens who spend more time than the average are more likely to be unhappy.
And the data shows that these children “extended” their childhoods and isolated them from true human interaction. Apparently, they are connected but felt alone.
This radically changed their social interactions and mental health. These may have resulted in a profound increase in cases of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
As Dr. Twenge questioned: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
Depression and suicide
Contrary to Joey De Leon’s misinformed comment (Thank you for Apologizing.), depression is a serious medical illness. It negatively affects your feelings, thoughts, and actions.
It causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. And to top it all up, over 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression.
If the studies are proven to be valid, we are at the brink of the worst mental health crisis in the world.
Taking away your kids’ smartphone is not a good plan of action. You might set loose a rebellious little monster. So what do we do?
If they are still really young, you can make it a habit to charge the phones to your room every night. This might deter them from using their phones way past their bedtime.
If they are already teens, try to let them put down their phones, tablets, and laptops. And let them do anything not involving social media or a smart device.
Or better yet, try setting up an electronic curfew for your whole family. In this way, you are all committed to a technological detox. But this is easier said than done. Most of the time, our teenagers listen to someone else than us.
There is good news. You can let them read Dr. Jean Twenge’s book to get enlightened. I mean, who wants to suffer without knowing it? Information is key.