A recent article in The Atlantic titled Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? asserts some dire outcomes due to the use of SmartPhones by our children. While I would say that the headline is a bit hyperbolic, I do think that the article is a must read for all parents and educators.
Here are a few of the excerpts that caught my attention, along with some of my thoughts and questions:
The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household.
Sadly, I don’t think that SmartPhones have radically changed the way that teenagers are educated. I can’t help wondering if we were more proactive in seeing the opportunity of a web-connected device in every student’s hand if we could have avoided some of the negative consequences outlined. What if we had embraced SmartPhones? What if we at least talked about the implication of these devices for our kids and worked with families to come up with a plan to help our students find some balance?
The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.
Electronic devices and social media seem to have an especially strong ability to disrupt sleep.
I can’t help thinking that there is a direct connection to the time spent on devices looking at social media and the lack of sleep. I would love to know the percentage of teens who have their phones in their rooms and are looking at these devices late at night. I know teens tend to be sleep-deprived in the best of circumstances, but in how many cases is this due to the presence of a SmartPhone in their room?
As the technology writer Nick Bilton has reported, it’s a policy some Silicon Valley executives follow. Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world.
I realize that restricting technology might be an unrealistic demand to impose on a generation of kids so accustomed to being wired at all times.
We need to help our kids understand the impact that devices are having on their lives. Are they suffering from Fear of Missing Out? I wrote a bit about this back in February of 2016.
This brings me to my next area of discussion which is about the behavior of adults in our device-laden world. I am sure that I have not always done the best job modeling for my kids in regards to the importance of being present and enjoying some tech-free time. I am guessing that I am not alone in this… How many adults are also stressed out and/or depressed due to the prevalence of SmartPhones in our world?
While we could spend a great deal of time looking at all of the areas of concern outlined in this article, the more constructive activity would be to start creating supports to ensure that we do not continue these destructive patterns. Thankfully, we have resources like Jennifer Casa-Todd’s Social LEADia that can help us as we build this support system in our school community.