New Episode of Radio Atlantic: Are Smartphones Harming Our Kids?

In Episode 6, psychologist Jean Twenge discusses the toll smartphones are taking on the post-millenial generation

August 25, 2017-- More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis: happiness is trending down while clinical depression and suicide rates are rising. In Episode Six of Radio Atlantic, online now, psychologist Jean Twenge joins hosts Jeffrey Goldberg, Matt Thompson, and Alex Wagner to discuss the toll smartphones have already taken on this generation and what this research means for parents.

Twenge, whose much-discussed Atlantic piece was adapted from her new book on the topic, has found troubling signals that these devices seem to be taking a visible toll on the mental health of post-Millennials (kids born between 1995 and 2012). Twenge describes how research has shown that smartphones are addictive-- stimulating the same brain chemicals as drug addiction. And while many teens she spoke with did recognize the negative effects of their devices, they still spend six to eight hours a day online.

The discussion reveals some good news, though. Twenge says that many of the negative effects of smartphones don’t emerge until teens spend two hours or more per day. For parents, moderation is key and delaying getting that smartphone in the first place. But this raised the question: if teens say they find connections through their smartphones, how do we protect their ability to connect while we limiting their access to these devices?

Also in the episode: teens weigh in on their own relationships with their devices; and the hosts reflect on the influences that shaped the worldview of their respective generations, and on parenting in the age of the smartphone.

Radio Atlantic is available now on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher; like Radio Atlantic now on Facebook.  New episodes will be available weekly.

Show notes for Episode Six and related links can be found here. Twenge’s new book is titled iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us.