CNN’s chief medical correspondent spoke to psychology professor Jean Twenge from San Diego State University who in 2018 published a book which, even before lockdowns, warned that teenagers were missing crucial life experiences. Its title? “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.”

From CNN’s report:
In her book, Twenge makes the case that Gen Z (or iGen, as she calls them) is growing up in a way that is fundamentally different from previous generations. She told me that some of the biggest behavioral changes ever recorded in human history coincided with the release of the smartphone.

Twelfth-graders now are more like eighth-graders from previous generations, waiting longer to take part in activities associated with independence and adulthood, according to Twenge. They are less likely to go out with friends, drive, go to prom or drink alcohol than Gen X 12th-graders were. They are more likely to lie on their beds and scroll through endless social media feeds. They may be physically safer, but the long-term effect on their mental and brain health is a big question mark.

Twenge told me that she “saw just a very, very sudden change, especially in mental health but also in optimism and expectations … between millennials and iGen or Gen Z.”
CNN’s chief medical correspondent ultimately recommends parents talk to teenagers about how they’re using social media. But the article also recommends: “don’t catastrophize.”
In all likelihood, you’ll find out your kids are on some type of screen or device more often than you would like, but — this is key — not everyone develops a problem. In other words, don’t assume the worst about the impact that use of technology will have on your child’s brain and development. Most people may not develop catastrophic problems, but it can be challenging to predict who is most vulnerable…

And lastly, in the words of author and science journalist Catherine Price, remember that life is what we pay attention to. Think about that for a moment; it is such a simple idea, but it is so true. I find it both deeply inspirational and empowering because it implies that we have it within our control to determine what our lives are like. The next time you go to pick up your phone, Price wants us to remember the three Ws: What for? Why now? What else?
Price also wrote a book — titled “How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life.”. Here’s how CNN ends their article:

As Dr. Keneisha Sinclair-McBride, a clinical psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, pointed out, we possess something very valuable that Big Tech companies want: our time and attention. We need to be judicious about how we allocate these precious resources — not just because they are important to TikTok, Snap or Instagram but because they are priceless for us, too.

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