Dependence on the Internet is harming the younger generation
tPew Research Center released
Results from a survey in December
Revealing that nearly half of all teens now say they use the Internet “almost constantly” – a number that has nearly doubled since 2014. The other half said they use the Internet at least several times a day. Only 6% of teens use it
“about once a day” or “a few times a week.”
With WiFi everywhere and the proliferation of smartphones with advanced computing power, it’s easy to forget that this online lifestyle is an unprecedented social experience. Human civilization is about 6,000 years old, and there is no historical analogue to dismantling the block. We have no idea what this reliance on technology means or how it ends.
‘Health experts’ believe that childhood obesity can only be solved by medication and surgery
But we are beginning to understand the impact of this lifestyle on childhood and adolescence development. Generation Z, or those born after 1996, is the first generation in history to reach adulthood in a world characterized by constant use of the Internet. With the advent of smartphones beginning in 2010 (two-thirds of teens own one by 2015) and social media as the primary place to interact with teens, mood disorders in teens have skyrocketed, along with increased incidences of self-harm and
Some, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, continue to insist
Using social media has benefits for mental health
. However, research by psychologist Jean Twenge has discovered that teens who frequently use social media suffer from depression at twice the rate of their peers and that
The risk of suicide among adolescents increases with the number of hours spent on electronic devices
in a day.
Social media seems to have a particularly unsettling effect on young girls because girls are generally more likely than boys to engage in the “comparison and despair” mentality that pervades apps like Instagram. reported level of depression
It exceeds the number of hours boys spend in relation to the number of hours they spend on social media.
In the face of such shocking data, it is remarkable how little precious cultural oxygen is spent sounding the alarm, let alone searching for solutions. The mental health crisis facing our nation’s youth is unprecedented and shows no signs of abating. Its omission from the national discussion about mass shootings, for example, speaks to the superficiality of that discussion and our general unwillingness to rein in the “semi-static” Internet lifestyle.
As Generation Z begins to assert itself in the workforce, and presumably start families, we will find out whether or not the negative side effects of “almost constant” Internet use are limited to mood disorders. We do not yet understand the implications for other aspects of life.
Social psychologist and bestselling author Jonathan Haidt has been on a mission to address a technology-related mental health crisis among teens. In light of the data, he believes that social media platforms should be as well
Take legal responsibility
to enforce their own minimum age requirement of 13. The minimum age requirement, says Yuval Levin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
must be raised to
18 years old. Both suggestions should be taken seriously. After all, social media has proven to be at least as harmful to teens’ health as cigarettes.
newly The New York Times The feature offers another hopeful sign: an emergence
The Luddite Club, led by teens
New York City
This redefines what it means to be a rebellious teen. This group gets together regularly to take a break from each other, read fantastic novels, and paint sketches. They have little tolerance for “no show” and other forms of vagaries brought about by technology. They easily “lose” their smartphone in order to get rid of the constant monitoring of their parents.
“I still long to have no phone at all,” said one club member. “My parents are very addicted.”
It’s about time someone said it.
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Peter Lavin is a New England writer. Follow him on Twitter at @Laffin_Out_Loud.