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?