Smartphones and Your Children’s Health
For years we have been talking about the younger generation and their umbilical cord like connection to their smartphones and social media websites. It appears, like we thought, that it is causing a problem with our younger generation. A problem that sounds like we need to address and address immediately.
She raising the probability that smartphones are making our younger generation mentally fragile. She answers the question of exactly who are the “iGen” or “Generation me” generation. According to her they are:
The iGen is the generation born in 1995 and later, and they're the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. They spend a lot more time online, on social media and playing games, and they spend less time on non-screen activities like reading books, sleeping or seeing their friends in face-to-face interactions.
According to Ms. Twenge this obsession with their smartphones have caused them by the age of 18 to be less likely to:
- have a driver's license,
- to work in a paying job,
- to go out on dates,
- to drink alcohol
- or to go out without their parents compared to teens in previous generations.
Many of us with younger children have seen the above behavior first hand. I can attest to the fact that my children and their friends certainly portray the above behaviors to one extent or another.
In Ms. Twenge’s studies she has seen this behavior start around 2011 and 2012. She stated that she saw sudden changes to teenagers such as:
- big increases of teens feeling lonely or left out
- or that they could not do anything right
- that their life was not useful
Which she states are all classic symptoms of depression. This is behavior that we must all be aware of and attempt to address with our own children.
So the big question to all of us who are concerned about the amount of time our children spend on their smartphones and tablets is what we parents can do about it.
Ms. Twenge believes that we must limit the amount of time we allow our children to spend on their digital devices, this is not rocket science but it is worth hearing.
Ms. Twenge believes that you should not totally shut your children out of their digital devices and their social media world but certainly curtail it. In the article she states that we should allow them to:
use social media to stay in touch with friends, help plan things, and watch a little bit of video but keep it under that two-hour limit for 13- to 18-year-olds. Then you get all the benefits of social media and this technology without the big downside of it. If you feel your child needs a phone, say for getting back and forth to school, you can get them a "dumb" phone that does not have internet and all the temptations of a smartphone.
Sounds like good advice to me and I can already hear the push-back and complaining from our children but parents musts remember they are not their children’s friends but their parents. Parents that from wisdom must do what you must do to raise your children to be mentally stable, healthy and productive adults, we all know we need more of them.