Before Smartphones Ruined Teenagers, it Was Video Games! And TV! And Elvis!


Smartphones may be behind “skyrocketing” rates of teen depression and suicide, psychologist Jean M. Twenge argues in a terrifying new Atlantic essay (“Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?” adapted from her forthcoming book, iGen).

Phones have “changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives,” she says; the effects are intensely isolating and juvenilizing, leading not just to more time at home alone using devices and obsessively curating online profiles but less dating, sex, driving, socializing, and generally just doing things. Teens who spend more time than average on screens are more likely to feel lonely, get less sleep, and feel unhappy, Twenge writes. Kids who spend more time on “nonscreen activities” are more likely to be happy.

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