The emergence, advancements and easy accessibility of smartphone technology have made it quite hard to think of the days before their existence. It is no doubt therefore that smartphone has changed people's lives in the 21st century (Milius 22). It enables people from across the globe to connect instantly beside other numerous benefits that people have been able to access due to this advanced technology devices. However, Jean Twenges article in the Atlantic warned that the expansion of smartphone and social media technologies had introduced dramatic changes that did not characterize previous generations (Twenge). She goes ahead to allude that this technological development is putting the iGen at a higher risk of the worst mental health crisis. Therefore, this paper will evaluate Twenges article to examine the influence of smartphone technology to the current generation and relate it with the other generations before the emergence of smartphone technology.
The available research evidence indicates the adverse influence these devices have on the lives of teens. In a similar note, Twenges article utilizes a provocative title to set up a hopelessness attitude on the manner in which smartphones have turned kids of the current generation into lonely, depressed technology addicts who often fail to advance and achieve meaningful adulthood (Twenge). The article rotates around the apparent discontinuity in the intergenerational trends. She argues that smartphone technology has changed every aspect of the lives of modern-day teenagers, connecting their mental health to the nature of social interactions. In dystopian terms, Twenge explains that the current generation of kids is not alright. The smartphone is changing everything, from the latest birth cohort in America and total health destruction of these kids. According to the article, smartphones are responsible for the changes such as socialization, sex, sleep, courtship and mental health among the current generation of young people (Twenge). While the press has always caricatured the millennials as the Shiva generation that wastes everything they come across, the post-millennial generation is worse. They are in fact pre-wrecked, shallow and brittle just like their smartphone screens.
The article, therefore, puts Twenge as the leading American commentator on the intergenerational differences in the contemporary society. In fact, Twenge has been consistent with her work since the 1990s, publishing books and articles that underscore the beliefs and attitudes of the young people across various generations (Maurer 49). Her central idea lies in two distinct parts; adverse correlation with the teen's mental health and the linear relationship between direction and time with their level of happiness. This is actually a description of two critical variables; the iGen unhappiness and screen time can result from a third unforeseeable variable.
However, Twenge is only concerned with finding answers in longitudinal surveys, which makes her only poised to find a proximate cause. It is therefore doubtful whether it is appropriate to suggest that the rise in the use of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are responsible for the unhappiness of the iGen (Milius 24). Besides, it is quite clear that the article does not seem interested in the role played by financial aspect to the changes that characterize the current generation because she alludes that market cycles often fluctuate and do not usually follow a predetermined path, which makes economics a poor explanatory variable (Twenge). The article appears sloppy in most instances; it is no doubt that the internet and society currently promote relentless positivity.
Twenges critics converge that her conclusion is based primarily on the relationship between the emergence of smartphone technology and the rise in mental health cases among the current generation of teens at the same time. Although she acknowledges most of her arguments, she perceives the rise in smartphone usage as a point of inflection. However, she fails to include some of the forgoing trends that characterize the current society and by extension affecting teens lives such as overprotective parents and the emergence of divisive politics among others thus making her assertion of pegging all the blame on smartphones to appear facile (Maurer 51).
Her assertions about smartphone and mental health issues among the current generation of teens appear as though each generation emergence with its distinct innate characteristics instead of being influenced or reacting to the actions of the previous generations. It is no doubt that every generation always develops much of their characters, attitudes, and beliefs as a result of the influence they get from their parents; the previous generation. For instance, an article that was also previously published in the Atlantic magazine illustrated how kids, including one-year-olds, get influenced by the actions of adults in their immediate environment (Rinck 13). Therefore, it would be wise to pose a question that what do kinds observe these days that are different from the previous generations?
It is not uncommon for the current generation of parents to spend a huge amount of time on their smart devices to check assignments, or on social media. As a result, such activities often make their kids feel bored and lonely. Therefore, it is easy to expect what these kids will do ones they have access to a smartphone device. However, from Twenges work, it is likely for parents to the level of their blames on smartphones and fail to recognize how their actions and behavior influence the attitudes of and beliefs of their children (Ward 12). Therefore, although such a position may protect the egos of parents, it presents an incomplete and misleading picture.
Moreover, Twenges article only reviews correlational studies; implying that her references only observed associations between particular variables such as the smartphone and depression. However, these studies failed to incorporate divergent views such as whether smartphone usage could cause depression or symptoms of depression may result in higher use of smartphones. Besides, the studies Twenge reviewed significantly ignored the differences in individual characteristics as well as the varying social contexts. There is an available evidence suggesting that the association between screen use and psychological well-being, like any other human behavior, relies on a wide range of personal and contextual variables (Thompson 23). For instance, an individuals' frequency of using a smartphone, when they use it and how they use it mostly depends on various considerations.
Therefore, it is essential to recognize that smartphones have both positive and negative effects on users. Some experts agree that smartphone technology can amplify intelligence, ambiance, and productivity. It is, however, important to practice restraint in all things including the time the current generation spends on digital platforms. However, it looks irresponsible after alluding that smartphones lower the rates of alcohol, smoking, unprotected sex and teen pregnancies to go ahead and claim that such a generation is destroyed (Schwartz 41). Nonetheless, despite the existing mental health crisis among today's teens, it will require much effort than merely criticizing smartphone devices to introduce a healthy culture for the coming generations.
Maurer, Hermann. "Does the internet make us stupid?." Communications of the ACM 58.1 (2015): 48-51.
Milius, Susan. "Hush, humans: We're trying to survive here: Prey and predators have their issues with noisy humankind." Science News 187.4 (2015): 22-26.
Rinck, Peter A. "Generation Y and the future of radiology Or: Is Generation Y outsourcing cerebral activities to smartphones?." RINCKSIDE: 13.
Schwartz, Daniel A. "Social Media 2.0: the Next Generation of Hyperconnectivity." Law Prac. 40 (2014): 30.
Thompson, Mica L. "Smartphones: Addiction, or Way of Life?." Journal of Ideology 38.1 (2017): 3.
Twenge, Jean. "Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?" September 2017. The Atlantic Magazine. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/.
Ward, Annalee. "Fearless Integrity and Screen Life." Character and... 3 (2017): 1-14.
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