iFear: Cell Phones & Social Media in a Brave New Era

Image result for social media danger

Becky Mansfield over at Your Modern Family wrote a somewhat chilling piece on the extent to which cell phones and social media have altered a generation – in the not-so-good ways every parent fears – called “The scary truth about what’s hurting our kids.”

Reporting on empirical data presented through a number of mediums, notably Dr. Jean Twenge’s research and the findings she presented in her recent book, iGen:Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us., Ms. Mansfield helps break down some alarming information in an easily digestible, if uncomfortable, way.

Without mincing words, Dr. Twenge has found that spikes began occurring in teen/tween angst, depression, anxiety, ADHD, sleeplessness and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide in 2012, the same year the first iPhone was released. Since then, the numbers are getting worse, not better. Here’s a summary per the above article of a few related stats:

1 in 5 children has mental health problems

The article does offer coping strategies to parents, but if we as adults have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with all these new gadgets, one can only imagine how hard it is for younger people to navigate these waters without a considerable amount of difficulty. This is doubly true when it comes to bullying. Imagine having your least desirable enemies armed with the ability to follow you remotely to your bedroom through social media on a daily basis. Where does someone’s “safe place” become in an age when we are always connected?

As if anyone needs more proof of how serious this problem is, the article from the NYT I wrote about from October 11, 2017 (@simonwilliam: “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety“) is still on the website’s most popular emailed stories – 11 days after it went up, a longevity I’ve not seen before on that site’s page.

Ultimately, the onus lies on us, as parents and adults and mentors and teachers, to lead by example. But that’s easier said than done. High-tech gizmos aren’t going anywhere, and the world is only becoming more interdependent. Suddenly those fears our grandparents had that our parents’ minds were being poisoned by the gyrations of Elvis Presley and the absolute lack of decorum that the Beatles displayed (with shaggy hair!)seem like such Leave It to Beaver-like problems now.

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