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Thursday, February 15, 2018

The effect of smart phones on children was a shock: a ruined generation


One of the most read articles on the Internet for the year was the publication of the American edition of “The Atlantiс” on the impact of smartphones on the younger generation. Parents and teachers sometimes horrified about the fact that children spend all their free time with their noses buried in phones. A study of the American journalist, alas, is not reassuring. Mobile phones with Internet do radically affected youth.

We have translated an article which attracted so much attention.


photo: pixabay.com

One normal summer day I called to Houston, Texas. There lives Athena, she’s 13. First iPhone she got at 11.

She picked up the phone, her voice sounded like she just woke up. We talked about her favorite songs and TV shows, and then I asked what she likes to do with his friends.

“We go to the Mall”, she replied. “You bring up the parents?”, I asked, remembering that in high school, I was looking forward to those few hours that you can spend at the Mall with friends, without parents. “No, we go out together, with my family, mother and brothers, we are a little behind them, so I need to tell mum where I’m going to go tell her where I am, every 30 minutes or hour.”

These trips to the Mall is a rare thing. Usually this happens once a month. Much more time Athena and her friends spend in your phone.

Unlike the teenagers of my generation who usually spent the evening discussing a variety of gossip, they communicate in Snapchat. This mobile app gives you the ability to upload photos and videos that quickly disappear.

Athena and her friends are watching closely to maintain the level of SNEP strikes, showing how many consecutive days they are Snapstyle with each other. From time to time, they remain a particularly ridiculous pictures of their friends.

“A great tool of manipulation,” says Athena (I don’t use her real name because she is underage). She told me that in the summer most of the time she spent with the phone in his room, alone. It is normal for their generation, she says: “we Have not had the opportunity to know what life without iPhones and iPads. I actually think that the phones we like a lot more than real people.”

I study the topic of differences between generations in the next 25 years. I started at the age of 22 while a student at the graduate school of psychology. Usually the characteristics that are determinant for the generation, start to emerge gradually. I was starting to get used to the schedules that resemble small hills or plains, but then came a generation of Athens.

Around 2012 I noticed a dramatic shift in terms of behaviour and emotional state. Small slopes values of the linear graph turned into a steep mountain and cliffs. I have analyzed quite a large amount of data (beginning in 1930), relating to differences between generations and I can say that I have never seen.

At first I thought it was temporary bursts, but a few years later the trend continued. Changes in the indices were not only quantitative but also qualitative. The biggest difference between generations before it was in how they see the world. Today’s teenagers are different from predydushego of ocalenia not only a view of the world, but also by how they spend their free time. Their daily activities are radically different from what worked a generation of people in just a few years before them.

What caused such a major change in behavior? 2012, not so long ago ended the Great Recession, which officially lasted for two years, from 2007 to 2009. This process has had a major impact on people who are in an unstable national economy was trying to find his place in life. Also at this time the number of smartphone owners among the US population crossed the mark of 50%.

The more I researched data on the behavior of adolescents, and the more I talked with the young people of Athens generation, the more clearly I saw the trend. Smartphones and social networking has had a huge impact on young people-generation Athena. I call them Pokolenie.

These are children born in the period from 1995 to 2012, from a young age, they own a smartphone and have accounts in social networks. They do not remember time without the Internet. The previous generation also grew up under the influence of the Internet, but at the time he wasn’t so available, it was not always at hand.

Most senior members pokolenia was in her teen years, when in 2007 he presented the first iPhone. In 2010, during the release of the iPad they were in high school. A survey of more than 5000 American teenagers 2017, showed that three out of four have ever owned an iPhone.

With the advent of smartphones and tablets followed the increasing concern of society about the negative effects that gadgets have on vision.

However, the negative influence of these devices have been seriously underestimated. The advent of smartphones has drastically changed every aspect of life in adolescents. From the way they interact in society, to their mental health. Regardless of their origin or financial situation, these changes have affected every teenager.


photo: pixabay.com

Trends are reviewed regardless of the level of income in the family, her ethnicity, is irrelevant and the place of residence. Where there are mobile phones, teenagers live their life in smartphones.

For those of us whose childhood was not so serious under the influence of technology, this trend may seem alien and dangerous. But studies of the differences between generations are not to indulge the sense of nostalgia and remember how it was before, but in order to understand how things are at the moment.

To influence their representatives generational changes are divided into three types: positive, negative, both positive and negative at the same time. The third type, usually prevail.

Despite the fact that the conditions of life of today’s teenagers are more secure, they are more comfortable to spend time in my room than at a party. A chance to get into a car accident are much lower. They are less addicted to alcohol than their predecessors, and, accordingly, less susceptible to diseases associated with excessive alcohol use.

However, from a psychological point of view, they are more vulnerable than the previous generation. Rates of depression and suicide among teenagers has increased tremendously since 2011. It is no exaggeration to say that Pokolenie is on the verge of the grave crisis of mental health in the last few years. Between the increased utilization of smartphones and the deterioration of the situation regarding psychological health, of course, is addiction.

As significant as any event that defines a generation war, a technological breakthrough or one of the cult concert (apparently referring to the famous festival in Woodstock – “MK”), it may not be the only factor influencing its development.

Change methods of education, the school curriculum and culture. All this is of great importance. But the level of shock that is experienced by the society from the advent of smartphones and social networks may not have analogues in history. There is good evidence: the devices that we gave up young people have a tremendous effect on their livelihoods and make them very unhappy.

In the early 1970-ies photographer bill Yeats made a series of portrait images to a roller skating rink in Tampa, Florida. On one captured the teen in jeans, naked to the waist, in his hands he holds a bottle of peppermint schnapps.

The other boy looked about 12 years old with a cigarette. This rink was a place where children could escape from the world their parents in their own world, a world where they can drink, smoke and kiss in the back seats of cars. Not black-and-white photo of Yeida adolescent, self-confident, willing to make their own choices, even if – maybe especially if – this choice is not supported by their parents.

Fifteen years later, in the days of my youth, Smoking has lost its charm, but independence is, by far, have been trending. My friends and I wanted to get a driver’s license as soon as possible. We took the documents to the Department of motor vehicles in the day when we were 16 years old. We only used the new freedom to quickly get out of the house.

Independence from parents, which is so strongly attracted by the previous generation are not so important to today’s teenagers. They rarely leave home without parents. The shift indicators are striking: students grade 12 in 2015, go outside less often than the students of 8th grade in 2009.


Time during the week that teenagers spend on “going” somewhere without parents.

Today’s Teens also are less likely to engage in a romantic relationship. The initial stage of courtship, which the previous generation was called “sympathy” (like “Ooh, you’re cute”) today’s Teens are called “the fellowship” is a pretty funny choice of words for the generation that prefers online communication live communication.

After two teenagers “talk” for some time, they can begin to meet. However, only about 56% of high school students have ever been on a date. The figures in the two previous generations was around 85%.

The less adolescents go on dates, the less their sexual activity. A serious decline is observed among ninth-graders, among which figures the number of sexually active teenagers declined by almost 40% since 1991.


Percentage of students who have ever had sex.

Today the average teenager the first time enters into a sexual relationship in the 11th grade, a year later, the average representative of the previous generation. Low social activity has a big impact on what many see as the positive trend of the current generation. The teenage pregnancy rate reached its lowest rate in 2016 is 67% below the maximum figure for the last time, which was observed in 1991.

Driving a car is a symbol of teenage freedom included in the American pop culture thanks to such films as “rebel without a cause” or “Ferris Bueller takes day off”, has lost its appeal for modern teenagers.

Almost all representatives of the generation of baby boomers got driver’s license in the spring of the first year of high school. Today more than one out of four teenagers graduating from high school, no driver’s license. For someone mom and dad in the role of a chauffeur is ideal, so there is no need to learn to drive.

“I always take my parents, yet did not complain,” he told me 21-year-old student from San Diego.

“Only after mom told me that you can no longer drop me off at school, I had to get a driver’s license,” says another girl.. And she finally got them, six months after her 18th birthday. The conversation behind the conversation: teenagers described the process of getting a driver’s license, something that the parents forced them to do. For previous generations this attitude to this issue is unthinkable.

Independence costs money for gas and a bottle of schnapps to pay. Before many started working from an early age, in order to achieve financial independence, or so my parents wanted to show them the value of money. In turn, not so much teenagers from pokolenia work; also, as a rule, they are dependent you’re spending your money.

In the late 1970s 77% of high school students worked at paid jobs and in parallel studied. By the mid-2010s worked only 55% of pupils. The number of eighth graders who work for money has fallen by half. The great recession has seriously affected the decline of these indicators, however, worth noting that the indicators related to the accessibility of the work, returned to pre-crisis levels, and the level of employment among adolescents — no…

If we take into account such factors of behaviour as drinking alcohol, building a romantic relationship, today’s 18-year-old say they would have behaved the children in 15 years. A 15-year-old – as children 13 years of age. The scope of childhood has been significantly extended.

Why modern teenagers are less willing to accept the responsibilities and benefits of adulthood? Shifts in the economic system, changes in the methods of education – all of this certainly plays a role. In the era of information economy, in which higher education is valued more than employment at an early age, parents are more willing to encourage behavior in which the child free time to sit home and study than to work.

Teenagers in turn, this situation suits not because they love to learn, and because their social life mostly happens on the Internet. To spend time with your friends, there is no need to leave the room.

If modern teenagers were a generation of wonks, according to be seen. But the disciples 8, 10, 12 classes in 2010-ies carried out household work in less time than the previous generations in the early 1990-ies. The average time spent by teenagers to visit clubs and sports, not much has changed in recent years. Together with low teenage employment, young people pokolenia more free time than the generation X, no less.

What do they do in their free time? Sitting alone in their rooms, their phones, and their mental state, usually far from the norm.

Interesting detail: despite the fact that the representatives of pokolenia spend much more time with their parents under one roof, you can hardly say that they are with them in a more intimate relationship than their predecessors.

“I saw how my friends communicate with my family – they are especially not speaking to each other,” says Athena to me. “They just say “yeah, yeah, okay” and sit in their phones. They do not really care about the relationship with his family.”

Like its contemporaries, Athena is just an expert at how to get rid of the parents, in order to focus on the phone. She spent most of the summer, talking with friends, but most of this communication happened on snapchat or SMS. “I spent chatting over the Internet, more time than communicating with people eye to eye,” she says. “It seems to me, on my bed there’s a fingerprint in the form of me.”

It is also not unusual. Since 2000, the number of Teens who meet with friends almost every day, fell by 40%, a particularly strong decline was evident in recent time…


The percentage of Teens who become acquainted with peers outside the home and school.

The Monitoring the Future survey aims to provide representative sample on a national scale. In the course of each year, starting from 1975, dvenadtsatikolonnom asked about 1000 questions, and since 1991 the survey has connected eight and tenth. Adolescents ask about the level of life satisfaction, record the time that they spend on personal contact (eye to eye) or sports. As well as the amount of time spent on social networks, chatting online and surfing the Internet. The results are unambiguous: the level of life satisfaction and the amount of time spent behind the screens of their gadgets are in an inverse relationship.

There is not a single exception. All classes related to the interaction with the gadgets associated with lower life satisfaction levels, and Vice versa.

The probability that an eighth grader will tell you that he’s unhappy, increased by 56% if he spends more than 10 hours a week in social networks.

Those who spend in social networks from 6 to 9 hours, 47% more likely to say that they are unhappy than those who sit in sotssetyah less than 6 hours.

If you can give advice for a happy youth, based on this research, it will be straightforward: put aside phone, laptop and generally anything with a screen and go do something.

College students who have a page on Facebook, was invited to take the survey within two weeks. Five times a day, they reported their mood and how often they used Facebook. The more they used Facebook, the unhappier they felt.

“You can easily find friends,” we are told of the social network. But really pokolenia portrait that emerges from the analysis of the data, is very sad. Pokolenie is lonely, cut off from human society. Adolescents who every day visit the social network, but personally, I see friends less often, are more likely to agree with the statements “I often feel lonely”, “I often feel not at ease”, “I often think it would be good to have more good friends.”

The number of teenagers who feel alone, greatly increased in 2013 and remains high until now.

The eighth graders who are heavy users of social networks, the risk of depression by 27% above, than at those who plays sports, participates in religious services or even just more than usual engaged in domestic work….

Teenagers who spend 3 hours a day or more with their electronic gadgets, with the highest probability (35%) will have one of the risk factors of suicidal behavior. One piece of data not directly, but very accurately captures the good and the bad in the growing rate of teenage isolation: since 2007, the homicide rate among teenagers has declined, but has increased the suicide rate. Since teenagers have less time to spend with each other, they are most likely to kill themselves than anyone else. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the suicide rate among teenagers has surpassed the homicide rate.

Depression and suicide have many causes. Negative impact of technology is clearly not the only one. Higher suicide rate was observed in the 1990s, long before the invention of smartphones. However, again, the number of Americans taking antidepressants has increased four times. And as you know, these drugs are intended to treat serious depression, which, in turn, is one of the major risk factors of suicide.

What is the relationship between smartphones and obvious psychological distress experienced by this generation? Despite the fact that social networks give the opportunity to maintain contact and day and night, they also reinforce the fear of being deprived of attention. Modern teenagers do not often go to parties and not spend so much time in a personal communication, but when it happens, the whole process is carefully documented in a Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram. That is why those who are not invited, be aware that they are not invited. Accordingly, the level of adolescents who feel deprived of attention, has reached a historic high among all age groups.

This trend was particularly acute among girls. In comparison with 2010, the number of girls who feel deprived, increased by 48% in 2015. Prevalence among boys increased by 27%. As girls use social media more often, more likely that they will stumble on photos or posts of friends who spend time without them, and thus feel abandoned and alone.

Social media can also seriously irritate those girls who do post and spread something because they are eerie looking forward to approval in the form of comments and likes. Athena told me that when she posts photos in Instagram, then very nervous of what people will think say. “Sometimes I am very worried due to the fact that I got insufficient number of likes to the photo”.

The number of girls who exhibit symptoms of depression has increased dramatically – 50% in the period from 2012 to 2015. It is twice more than among young men – 21%.

Among girls also significantly increased the level of suicide. In General, suicide rates increased among both sexes, but the number of girls aged 12 to 14 who committed suicide in 2015, has grown three times in comparison to 2007. Prevalence among young men has doubled.

Serious implications for adolescents may be the result of cyberbullying. Boys tend to manifest their aggression physically, while girls do it by undermining social status or relationships of the victims. Social networks give girls a platform where they can show the same style of aggression that is convenient to them. There they have the opportunity to persecute their victims round the clock.

Naturally, Internet companies aware of these problems and with different degrees of success trying to solve the problems associated with cyberbullying. However their motives are, to put it mildly, complex. Recently in the network leaked document shows that the Facebook network was trying to attract advertising companies, promoting an algorithm that determines the emotional state of a teenager, based on his activity on the website.

This algorithm also gives the opportunity to “pinpoint the exact moment when young people need the boost of confidence”. In Facebook acknowledged that this document really exists, but they denied the allegations that they came up with an algorithm that aims to be “to targeted advertising based on the emotional state of the people”…

In July 2014, a 13 year old girl woke up from what smelled burnt. Her phone melted right in front of her on the sheet. News agencies picked up the news, scaring the audience to the fact that their phone could explode at any moment. However, for me burning the phone was not the only remarkable aspect in this story. Why, I thought, putting the phone to bed? In the dream, it is impossible to sit on the Internet. And how can you sleep when inches from you phone buzzing?

I was curious, so I asked my students from the University of San Diego, to tell what they are doing with your phone during sleep. The answers were the following: almost all sleep with their phones, put them under the pillow on the mattress or at least within reach from the bed.

They check social networks before bed and first thing in the morning. If they Wake up in the night, then it is likely that at some time they will “hang” in the smartphone.

Some of them use phrases that they usually say addicts. “I know I shouldn’t have to do it, but I can’t help myself”. Others perceive your phone as a sequel to his own body or even as a lover: “When my phone under my arm, during sleep, I feel more comfortable.”

Maybe it’s comfortable, but the use of smartphones reduces the time of sleep. Many people sleep less than seven hours a day. Experts on sleep say that teenagers need 9 hours of sleep. Those who sleep less than 7 hours, suffer sleep deprivation. The number of teenagers having a sleep deficit in 2015 has increased by 57% in comparison with 1991. In just 4 years – from 2012 to 2015, the number of teenagers who suffer from sleep deprivation, increased by 22%.

Very suspicious that the rapid rise of the indicators accounted for by the time when most Teens got smartphones. Two national survey showed that adolescents who spend three hours and more for your electronic gadgets, sleeping less than 7 hours. The number of those who use smartphones for less than 3 hours and sleeps less than 7 hours, less than 28%.

Teens who visit social networks every day, is likely to suffer from sleep deprivation.


The percentage of young people who sleep less than 7 hours.

Meta-analysis of studies using electronic devices among adolescents revealed similar results: children who use a smartphone right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, are more likely to sleep badly and are likely to feel sleepy during the day.

Teens who read books and magazines more often average, less prone to lack of sleep or reading lulls them or they may simply time to put the book down. Viewing TV for several hours a day very little to do with lack of sleep. However, the appeal of smartphone is often too great to resist.

Lack of sleep can cause many problems, such as reduced level of intelligence, can increase susceptibility to disease, contribute to excess weight, problems with blood pressure. It also affects the mood: people who lack sleep are more prone to depression.

Parents should tell their children to limit the time of using the phone. As Nick Bilton writes, such a policy applied by some companies in Silicon Valley. Even Steve jobs, the man who is the Creator of the iPhone, limiting the use of gadgets in their children.

At stake is not only how our children will spend the adolescence of their lives. The constant presence of smartphones will probably have an impact on their adult life.

Those people who experienced a depressive episode, 50% chance to encounter this a second time. Adolescence is a key time to develop their social skills. As adolescents spend less time personally interacting with their friends, they lack practice. Perhaps, in the next ten years people will be much easier to choose the right smiley than the right expression for any situation.

I understand that restricting access to technology is too radical for a generation of teenagers who used to be always online and connected. I have three daughters, born in 2006, 2009 and 2012. They are still too young to show signs of generation Pokolenie, but nevertheless, their example, and I see how deeply the new technology entered our lives.

My youngest daughter who is just starting to walk confidently uses an iPad. My middle daughter wants your phone. And recently, I briefly heard my eldest daughter is discussing with her friends the app that allows you to “skip” the 4th class.


photo: pixabay.com

Will be hard to explain to our children what a phone needs to spend less time. Perhaps it will be heavier than when the generation of my parents tried to explain to us what we need to watch less MTV and spend more time in the fresh air.

Now, however, a lot is at stake. We need to teach our children to use new technologies responsibly. If a teenager spends 2 hours or more for electronic gadgets, then it is very likely that he will have problems associated with sleep and psychological health. The average modern teenagers: two and a half hours. If you correctly define the boundaries, you can protect the child from these problems.

In my conversations with teenagers I have noticed encouraging signs. They are beginning to realize that some of their problems associated with excessive use of the phone. Athena told me that when she spends time with her friends, they’re in conversation do not look at her, and in the screens of their gadgets.

“I try to talk to them, and they don’t even look at me, she says. Just look at the screens of their devices.”

“How does it feel that you can’t hear, despite the fact that those who you say you are close?”, – I asked. “It’s quite unpleasant. I’m sure people from my parents ‘ generation, would not be able to do something like that. Maybe I’m talking about something very important to me, and they’re not even listening,” replied Athena.

One day, Athena spent time with a friend who texted her boyfriend: “I tried to talk to her about his family, about other cases and she told me to answer only “yeah, yeah, I see.” Well, I pulled the phone from her hands and threw it into the wall.”

I was very amused. I said, “You play basketball. You must have a strong throw?”. “Yeah,” she replied.

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