It’s hard today to imagine that there was a time when children thought of a fresh food section in a supermarket when one spoke of blackberry or apple. For today’s teenagers, the first place they think of when these two words are mentioned is a high tech store.
It doesn’t matter how old they are, just hand them a smartphone and they know exactly what to do with it. Smartphones have created a totally new world where children, even if spending more time at home, have very little or no interaction with the people around them.
This has led some to believe that smartphones have destroyed a generation. It is argued that the theory of smartphones destroying a generation is being driven by nothing else but a sense of nostalgia. This is mostly a way of reasoning typical of those who generally find change unbearable.
On the other hand, the evidence indicates that teenagers who spend most of their time with a smartphone are actually less happy if compared to the generations before them. Hence, they claim that this is a generation destroyed. This is a view supported by the studies proving that rates of depression among teenagers have been on the rise since 2011; it basically means that these young people are at risk of the worst mental crisis seen in the history of humanity.
Creating an Individualistic Generation
Studies into generational differences show that the Millennials, due to the effect of smartphones, have become an extremely individualistic generation, caring not about the people around them but about people they hardly know. These studies also indicate that the amount of time Millennials spend with their smartphones has an effect on their behavior and emotional state.
But are these changes linked to the influence of smartphones? To a large extent, the answer is yes. Researchers point out that the number of cases of behavioral changes among young people has been noticed mostly to increase with unlimited access to smartphones.
The Positive Side of Smartphones
There are a number of positive changes that have been brought about by smartphones debunking the idea that today’s teenagers are a destroyed generation. For instance, research indicates that most young people would rather remain at home with their smartphones as opposed to going out on a date. This results in a decline of sexual activity and other elements linked to it, including early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Another positive effect which has been revealed is an absence of an aspiration to drive. While the former generations had a strong desire to get a driver license as soon as they reached the legal age, today’s teenagers sticking to their smartphones just don’t see the need to. This results in reduced numbers of immature people driving around which leads to a reduction of road accidents.
How Smartphones Destroy a Generation?
Those saying that today’s teenagers are a destroyed generation argue that even though these young people are spending more time at home with their parents, the reality is that they are psychologically more distant from their elders than any other generation before them. The tragedy is that this generation has no time to learn from its parents. The teenagers ask their online friends for advice about things they may have asked their own mothers and fathers.
While it is easy to think that today’s teenagers find happiness when they spend time interacting with friends online, this is not the case at all. For example, the Monitoring the Future survey commissioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has concluded that the teenagers who spend more time with their smartphones are more likely to be unhappy, while those who spend more time being involved with the activities unrelated to smartphones report higher levels of happiness.
There is an irony in the fact that teenagers spending more time with smartphones that give access to social network sites like Facebook still confess that they feel lonely, dislocated, and often growing addicted to the smartphone. Although these networks are supposed to make teenagers happier and more sociable, this does not seem to be the case, especially if one takes a look at the statistics indicating that teenagers who spend more time with their smartphones or other electronic devices are more likely to be depressed. This risk is significantly reduced among those who spend most of their time doing sports, studying, and meeting their friends in person.
The Link Between Smartphones and Unhappiness
What cannot be disputed is the fact that smartphones have the power to keep teenagers connected with the outside world. While a smartphone can really do this, it still leaves a teenager feeling left out due to the lack of personal communication.
Through updates on social media sites, young people view the lives of others as happy, and they know that they are not invited to share that happiness.
Posts on social media sometimes make teenagers mistakenly believe that their own lives are not as interesting as the lives of their online friends. People are generally more likely to post only those things that make them look happy and leave out everything negative. This sometimes leads others to get disappointed in their own lives for being not as happy as those they follow on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The situation is further aggravated by the prevalence of cyberbullying.
As to whether smartphones are destroying a generation or not, the answer seems to tilt in the direction of yes, rather than no. Human beings are social by their nature and find comfort in interacting with people face to face. When people no longer talk to those who truly love them and care for them, choosing to spend most of their time with those they hardly know instead, it is easy to arrive at the conclusion that this generation is facing serious erosion, if not destruction.