A debate is raging in the mainstream media around an article claiming that cellphones are ruining kids today. The article, by Jean Twenge in The Atlantic, is getting all the attention, but to be fair, the subject has traction because we are in a time of transition. We are conducting a social experiment without a lot of data or precedent, so anxiety around the issue is to be expected.
Social scientists, journalists and parents are all trying make sense of the new factors that affect adolescents. But our conclusion is that the issue isn’t simple as Twenge suggests.
Take a moment and decide for yourself. And, most importantly: take the opportunity to pause, and reflect on how technology is being used in your family. If there are changes you want to make, the transition from summer to fall is a good time to implement new ideas.
Here are some resources to helpt you up to speed on the topic.
The article that kicked off the debate, “Are Smartphones Ruining a Generation” by Jean Twenge.
Here, Katie Couric interviews Twenge on a fun podcast, and explores the idea of our “addiction” to technology.
We also liked this rebuttal from Alexandra Samuel, who suggests that social media is the enemy, and that parents are more apt to be the culprits than kids. Interesting, right?
It’s certainly time to shine a light on mental illness, and it’s likewise a positive step to take note of this generation’s increased anxiety. But should all blame be laid at the feet of social media and cellphones? While social scientists work all this out (which could take years), we are busy raising the next generation, and so need to trust our instincts about what we think is good (and not so good) for our kids. All of which points to the fact that it’s time to double down on the family’s rules around social media and cellphone use.
Balance, balance, balance. Common Sense has a campaign promoting “Device Free Dinner” as a way to make room for the connections and conversation that kids (and parents) need.
Here is a good article about how to monitor your kids devices — and the importance of letting them know that you are watching their behavior to keep them safe.
And, here is an elegant response, an open letter from Melinda Gates about parenting in the digital age, from the Washington Post.