Smartphone Addiction Isn't Only a Problem for the Young

It’s not just young people spending inordinate amounts of time on their phones, says renowned specialist on generational differences Dr. Jean Twenge, a Psychology professor at San Diego State and the author of a book called IGen, examining the generation behind Millennials who have not only never known life without a smartphone in their hand, they’ve always had social media influencing their choices and development. It’s shaping younger generations in ways not anticipated, but that has somewhat distracted attention from their grandparents, who are also addicted to their screens.

It’s impossible to give context to the revolution of thought and behavior the advent of smartphones has brought to homo sapien sapien, first jumping onto the scene in 2007. “Five and a half years, from introduction to market saturation is the fastest adoption of any technology in human history,” Twenge says.

Twenge has made an alarming discovery about the psychological impact this new world is having on young people. Her September 2017 Atlantic article “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” is as relevant as it was four years ago, and is a worthwhile read. But something to consider is how that amazing technological marvel has swept into the lives of every generation today, and altered each. “Obviously the phones had a big impact on younger people,” Twenge reminds. “But many, many older people are spending a lot of time on their devices as well, especially on social media.”

And what is being found in users at all stages of development is the unhappiness the addiction elicits, even among older people. As Twenge’s article details, in study after study, an association is made between frequency of use and self-described happiness, and not positively.

A British study finds that next to our homes, we are all living in our smartphones more often than the physical world. The long term consequences aren’t known. Things can change a lot in five and a half years these days, but as Boomers age into a stage where loneliness and isolation can be unhealthy, it’s something that will require study.

photo: Getty Images

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