Compare and Despair - the hidden danger of smart phone usage by adolescents
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
"Daddy, all of our friends have cell phones. We're going to be 12! When are we going to be allowed get a phone? My answer was a strong "no." I had heard so many stories of tweens losing interest in sports, reading and face-to-face interactions, in favor of more time scrolling on their smart phone. As someone who works in the fitness and health space, those I felt like they were the reasons I have held back.
But then, in a moment of weakness, I was about to give in. That is when, quite fortuitously, I happened upon an amazing OpEd by best selling author, psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge, titled "This Is Our Chance to Pull Teenagers Out of the Smartphone Trap." The authors are psychologists who have spent years studying the effect of smartphones and social media on our daily lives and mental health. If ever I needed additional reinforcements in my arsenal of, the stats they discuss are staggering, and quite frankly quite saddening .
Though many of the ills that have befallen our children can be attributed to the COVID - 19 pandemic, we need to look back to 2012, when the rates of teenage depression, loneliness, self-harm and suicide began to rise sharply. By 2019, just before the pandemic, rates of depression among adolescents had nearly doubled; correlating with a dramatic increase in cell phone usage. Coincidence? The authors of this article and I are in agreement here. Feelings of loneliness, depression, and a decline in adolescent mental health have increased exponentially. For those reasons, I support the conclusions presented in the article below, written by our friend Jonathan Haidt, and stay resolute in my decision not to give my tween twin girls cell phones.
I am David Kirsch, co-founder of Just For The Children.