by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
I have come of age in a world dominated by smartphones, and in a generation whose (rapidly changing) social norms and relationships have been structured around ubiquitous phone usage. And Jean Twenge’s highly popular article in The Atlantic seems exactly right to me. …
… Smartphones, Twenge argues, are precipitating a mental-health crisis among the generation that is growing up with them. The data are unmistakable: high-schoolers go out with their friends considerably less than they did ten years ago; they date less; they get less sleep. It is, of course, impossible to be entirely sure that these phenomena are caused by smartphones, but the trendlines are strong circumstantial evidence that something dramatic changed right about when the iPhone started to become popular. The most dramatic shifts all begin between 2010 and 2012 — right when iPhones transformed from an expensive curiosity to a social phenomenon at my high school and schools like it across the country. Most troubling of all is the enormous spike in loneliness among teenagers that coincides quite closely with the popularization of the smartphone — from 21 percent of teenagers saying they frequently felt lonely in 2007 to 31 percent in 2015.