Twenge, who studies generational differences, is the author of a new book titled: “iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”
Twenge concludes that increased smartphone use is the underlying cause in the rise of negative emotional states in teens. By 2011, a majority of the population were using smartphones, and students were spending more of their leisure time on their phones and less of it interacting face-to-face.
The reality that smartphone usage could contribute to unhappiness among middle-schoolers and high-schoolers was a surprise to Elias Elliot ’22, a cinema and photography major and one of the students who attended Twenge’s talk.
“I wouldn’t have thought people that young could have a major depressive episode,” Elliot said.
Twenge cautioned against the persistent, always-on pull of smartphones, reminding the audience that social media apps are designed to have addictive properties. “The smartphone is a tool you use—it should not be a tool that uses you,” she said.
She advised the audience to use smartphones in moderation and offered several suggestions for doing do: put them away at night, do not use them as an alarm clock, and shut them off during interpersonal activities.