In a recent interview with Tucker Carlson, Dr. Jean Twenge, a Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, described how smart phones are stripping our youth of normal human activity and may be causing a serious mental health crisis.
According to Dr. Jean, studies are showing that teens who spend a large amount of time on screen, engaging in social media use and other forms of electronic communication, are less happy, more depressed, and have a higher risk of suicide.
"And there are other studies that have found the same thing. There's a couple, for example, that followed people over time ... found the more they used social media the more unhappy they were and unhappiness didn't lead to social media use, so it wasn't the other way around," Jean told Carlson.
Dr. Jean is in fact correct. A study by the University of Copenhagen found that Facebook is making people unhappy and causing people who suffer “Facebook envy” to be particularly depressed.
The psychology professor says that teenage mental health began to deteriorate in 2012, the year the percentage of Americans with a smart phone crossed 50%.
"And that's when teens depression started to increase, suicide rates started to increase, they said they were more lonely, and it really has had an enormous impact on their lives."
According to Jean, the enormous amount of screen time teens are engaging in on a daily basis and electronic communication is replacing what teenagers use to do before smart phones.
"So they aren't hanging out with their friends as much in person, which we know is good for mental health. And instead, they are communicating via screens," Jean said.
Perhaps even more freighting is the professor's response to Carlson's question about the reading ability of someone whose life is deeply immersed in a smart phone.
"If you grow up immersed in this," Carlson began to ask while holding up a smart phone. "What's the likely hood you're going to be able to, EVEN ABLE TO, finish reading a 300-page book.
"Pretty low. And sure enough, again in these big surveys, that's exactly what you see ... That you look at, say, high school seniors ... the percentage of them who say that they read books and magazines, even occasionally, has plummeted and that what happens when they get to college. College faculty say that they're not reading the text book. They complain if I ask them to read anything longer than a few paragraphs, which of course, that's what they are used to. They are used to things really right changing every ten seconds or so on the phone and they don't have the attention span to read a book or even a long magazine article.
So, while the new iPhone X and iPhone 8's features and fresh look are making big headlines all over the web, it is being over looked how this type of smart technology is affecting people's basic human instincts. While there is a large upside to this type of tech, the downsides should absolutely be considered. It might be a good idea to ask yourself this question: "Am I willing to trade my humanity in for these trendy new toys."