In my search for interesting news, I recently subscribed to The Atlantic after reading some interesting stories like this one about iGen written by Jean M. Twinge which raises some concern about how young people are (or are not) adapting to the constant-on internet.
A few the data graphs in the article are particularly striking – like the sharp spike of loneliness among 8, 10 and 12th graders starting in about 2012, combined with the author’s interviews with these kids reflecting a lack of interest in going out with friends since they have constant Snapchat and other Social Media access to each other. The online community simply doesn’t replace the IRL one.
The author’s tendency to blame the ills of the world on mobile technology is a little bit of a reach. She seems amazed that teens will sleep with the phone on or beside their bed at night. Their phone is being used as an alarm clock. If that alone is all that’s happening it’s hardly something to be concerned about. And some of the graphs, while showing an acceleration post-iPhone, are part of a much longer trend. The tendency for teens to spend less time out without their parents could be an effect of technology, or the rising trend of helicopter parenting. Of course, Twinge packs her conclusions in around plenty of reminders that correlation doesn’t equal causation, while yet trying to write the most impactful headlines and make the boldest statements.
Still, I expect to hear much more from Twinge as the book is published and the book tour begins. Regardless of the cause of increased loneliness and suicide rates especially among girls, this is something to pay attention to.