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Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation? by Jean M. Twenge

Author: Jean Twenge

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One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”

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Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

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Aug 28
William Anderson (Aug 28 2018 4:06PM) : The girl that the author interviewed for this article rarely went out during her summer, trading in those moments for sitting at home on her phone. more

My reaction to the description of how “her generation is” is that of amazement if that is actually true. Throughout the summer myself and most of the people I know are filling their time with as many activities and time with friends as possible. I disagree with how she says that her generation is that way as I have never seen phone usage to that extent.

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Aug 29
Jill Nelson (Aug 29 2018 10:38AM) : I agree with Will. more

This is a very bold statement, claiming that most teenagers stay at home rather then going out. As Will said, in my personal experience, everyone I surround myself with would much rather be engaging with each other rather than being unengaged on their phones.

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Aug 29
Abby McGowan (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : I think, with or without smartphones, there will be people that chose not to interact and, if anything, smartphones give us a simple way of reaching out to people with the intention of face to face interaction.
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Aug 31
Yulisa Padilla (Aug 31 2018 12:08AM) : Most teens these days are more worried about keeping their snapstreaks by sending daily snaps than actually having human interactions with one another. more

The creation of smartphones has caused a major change in the way teenagers spend their time. Instead of them going out and interacting with another, you mostly hear about them just sitting on their phones with no communication between each other at all. Even if they do go out, they feel the need to share the event on social media apps, like snapchat, to make sure everyone knows it happened. Due to this, and many more reasons, snapchat has become a very popular app among teens. They are now more worried about keeping a snapstreak and screenshotting important moments rather than creating adventurous memories with one another.

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Aug 29
Prof. Anthony Richardson (Aug 29 2018 10:36AM) : iGen [Edited] more

In the beginning of this paragraph the author says, “More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned.” This statement explains the problems with technology our generation is facing. Twenge say they’re “together on their phones” which I know first hand is impossible. Phones steal our attentions, so its sad to see that technology is taking priority over real life friends.

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Aug 30
Olivia Haddadin (Aug 30 2018 12:49AM) : Moments of focus are consumed by phones, but the focus is not always on phones more

More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned.

Although teens may be on their phones here and there when hanging out, I have never noticed total focus on the phone. In moments where we are waiting or going to bed, we may check our phones, but not all day.

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Aug 28
emmanuela androulidakis (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : I agree very much so because I including the rest of my friends use snapchat more than anything else to communicate. Also with snapchat allowing messages to disappear or notify you when something is screenshotted, it allows us to talk about anything.
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Aug 29
Mack Tarver Jr. (Aug 29 2018 10:40AM) : In the generation that I live in today, we often use snapchat to communicate. Some of us would rather use Snapchat rather then regular texting. Snapchat is more fascinating. [Edited] more

I strongly agree, I feel like the generation that I live in today, we use snapchat to communicate with each other. I tend to use snapchat on the day to day basis, but others may not. Although, Snapchat is a way that we communicate when we cant use our phones, it allows us to login into our account on a different device, so that we can talk to friends.

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Aug 29
Penelope Richardson (Aug 29 2018 10:36AM) : very true honestly more

Many people I know, including me, have snapstreaks with other. We work so hard to keep them, and if they’re lost, it always seems pretty upsetting. I think this could be a subconscious way of talking to people every day, even though it is honestly pointless and not a great way to keep in touch wth people. But, I mean, it gives us something to do.

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Aug 29
Oakley Hill (Aug 29 2018 10:44AM) : . more

What started as a fun way to talk to your friends when you cannot physically hang out with them, has turned into blackmail, apparently. I most definitely do not like my phone more than face-to-face interaction, and summer is amazing and I am sad she did not go outside more.

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Aug 28
Christopher Clyne (Aug 28 2018 3:58PM) : A sad statement to say the least. more

When I first read this, I was depressed by the state of this girl’s summer. Being inside all school year kills me, and I’m shocked that the allure of an LCD screen replaces new experiences in the real world for a lot of my generation.

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Aug 29
Anna Drossos (Aug 29 2018 10:35AM) : I agree with Chris's statement. more

I very much agree because our generation has found a new sense of belonging through technology that other generations have never experienced. I think it is important to remember that experiencing something in real life is far different than witnessing it on a screen.

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Aug 29
James Colling (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : This sentence caught my attention in it's use of the words "That's just the way her generation is, she said.". more

To generalize an entire population off of one girl’s comments on smartphone use is a massive leap to take. And to start an article with such a comment is daring, but I feel removes some credibility from her argument in that this comment is said by one random younger aged girl, and by no means speaks for an entire population of individuals.

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Aug 29
Chris Athens (Aug 29 2018 10:34AM) : I think this is only partly true. It is becoming increasingly more true as younger kids are getting exposed to technology earlier in their lives, but I think there are still kids that don't actually get a phone until they reach a certain age.
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Aug 29
Skye Fredericks (Aug 29 2018 10:48AM) : I think this is true for the most part because we were born around the invention of the smartphone. more

Though older members of iGen may be able to remember a time before smartphones were everywhere, much of the generation was born into a society with iPhones. Obviously, we cannot control when we were born or that this type of technology was invented when we were too young to use it. However, I feel as though this does not always need to be seen as a bad thing. Of course it was not our choice to be born at this point in technological advancement. That does not mean we should justify lack of human contact and activity with the time when we were born. When we do that, it allows other people of different generations to call us lazy. Simply because we were born into a world of smartphones does not allow us to take technology for granted.

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Aug 28
Gwendolyn Orme (Aug 28 2018 3:58PM) : Personally, I would much rather hang out with a person than I would converse with them over the phone. I can see how people might think that we like our phones more because we use them so often, but I think that is mainly out of ease not preference.
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Aug 28
Maggie Condas (Aug 28 2018 4:01PM) : I think that we don't like our phones more than people, it is just easier to use our phones to communicate with friends than it is to actually hang out with a friend.
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Aug 29
Penelope Richardson (Aug 29 2018 10:38AM) : I agree with this more

Keeping in touch is a lot easier over the phone with all the social media we have. Now, with so much homework, school, jobs, and extracurriculars, it can be really difficult to hang out with people in person.

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Aug 28
Katherine MacPhail (Aug 28 2018 4:07PM) : I don't entirely agree with this, but I can see how people may like the convenience of their phone over social interaction. While I would prefer to hang out with someone in real life, it is easier to communicate with them over the phone.
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Aug 29
Clara Williamson (Aug 29 2018 10:43AM) : This statement does not apply to everyone. Athena seems to choose texting because it's easier than actually being with her friends. more

I think that this comment is coming from the opinion of one younger girl, and this definitely does not apply to all “iGens.” It seems as if Athena is spending more time on her phone because her parents won’t even let her go to the mall alone. She probably feels convenience to chat on her phone rather than organize a plan with her friends. I think that me, and most of my friends, would say we prefer to be with people in real life, even if it is easier to stay at home and snapchat.

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Aug 29
Abigail Runnels (Aug 29 2018 10:52AM) : Cellphones create a protected communication loop where one is not required to witness the emotions of other people. Also, people are able to edit their thoughts before sending them, something impossible during a conversation. [Edited]

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

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Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

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Aug 28
Grace Wise (Aug 28 2018 4:06PM) : These shifts are most likely directly related to the increase of smartphones within youth, but what is it about them that cause these shifts? more

It’s interesting to look at this data because that is around the time most teens became equipped with a smartphone. For me, it raises the question is it the smartphone itself that is causing these shifts in behaviors and moods? Or could it be a wider, more accessible, convenient window to the internet than seen before.

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Aug 28
Ari Elorreaga (Aug 28 2018 4:07PM) : Adolesence is being shifting and beinf redefined from the freedom seeking fun of the past to the technology obsession of present day. more

The author states that adolescence is being redefined and is shifting from the freedom-branded experimental youth of Gen X and before. Teens today don’t go out, don’t drive, don’t date, and don’t talk to one another nearly as much as they used to, and I think it’s really sad. Happiness levels in teens are significantly lower than they have been, and teens are statistically lonelier than ever before, but we still isolate ourselves in a technology bubble controlled by our phones. These statistics accurately represent real life in my experience. I can tell that I’m happier without my phone, but I’m still addicted to it. I agree with the authors claims because the behavior patterns she discusses are recognizable. Adolescence is being redefined by technology and the fun that previous teens had in their quest for independence, something modern day teens care very little about, is missing. There’s a reason why John Hughes movies and all those old 80s teen movies seem so fun: they don’t have smartphones.

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At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

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What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.

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The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

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Aug 28
Griffin Mozdy (Aug 28 2018 3:57PM) : I agree with the author's claims in this paragraph because she uses hard data to back herself up. Without a reliable source of information, the author could just be making things up; in this case the author has reliable sources.
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The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

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Aug 29
Abby McGowan (Aug 29 2018 10:39AM) : Having a phone perpetuates social awkwardness among teens. more

In my opinion, phones have become a safety net for awkward social situations. In my personal experience when I don’t feel like having a conversation or I’m trying to avoid someone, I resort to using my phone. Having smartphones has altered the nature of social interactions, because having a conversation with someone on their phone is nearly impossible and often times leads to the interaction ending prematurely.

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Aug 29
2019 Sera Cazares (Aug 29 2018 10:35AM) : I agree that technology and smartphones have changed every aspect of teenagers lives, and I think that really it's changed every aspect of everyones lives. It's a big part of school, of jobs, of socializing, for teens, for young kids, for adults.
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Aug 29
sean parent (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health more

I fully agree with the statement of owning a smartphone has readically changed teenagers lives. I do want to add to Twenge’s statement by saying that owning a smartphone and a laptop, Ipad, or tablet has also changed how teenagers study and work in the school setting. Just while being here at Judge for the past four years, I personally have witnessed a change in how teachers teach to better cater to the technological needs of every student. Even in the past two years there have been major changes at Judge concerning phone usage and laptop usage. Judge now requires all students to turn in their phone to a teacher before leaving the classroom for the bathroom. It is also highly suggested (possibly required now) that all students bring a laptop of some sort everyday to class. Phones are now more than ever restricted within the classroom as well. Teachers often will have students place their phone in a bin or bag at the beginning of class so as to remove the distraction of having a phone in the student’s pocket. This also allows for a student to better focus on the course material and work without distraction. So, at the end of it all, Twenge missed a key point here that not only has the smartphone changed a teenager’s social life and mental health, but also they way education works and what policies are made within schools.

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Aug 29
Raine Padawer (Aug 29 2018 10:40AM) : Increase in smartphones has affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. more

I disagree with this claim, because I believe this is too broad of a statement. I agree that many kids are impacted by smartphones, however I wouldn’t go as far to say every teen in the nation in every house hold. Not everyone has access to a phone or internet and therefore I don’t believe they are impacted as strongly.

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Aug 28
Anika Weaver (Aug 28 2018 3:59PM) : I agree that smartphones are one thing that almost every teen can relate to, no matter what our life situation is
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Aug 29
Penelope Richardson (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : agreed. more

almost every teen has a phone, so it’s easy to talk about something everyone has

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To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

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Aug 28
Tristan Brockbank (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : Teens are physically safer today than ever before. more

I agree that teens are more comfortable on their phones in a safe place than out at a party or in a car, but the internet has also brought a publicity to today’s teens when they do end up doing something unsafe or stupid. Today’s teens may not drive or drink as much as teenagers in the past, but when they do, there is almost always someone there and filming it, giving them attention for their stupid decision and encouraging it.

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Aug 29
Emma Graham (Aug 29 2018 10:38AM) : Use of technology does not lead to greater physical safety. more

While this may be true in some cases, technology and use of social media has made it easier for teens to meet up with their friends and find social gathering spots. Before the use of technology, planning played a huge role in connecting with friends or even strangers. In today’s culture, smartphones make it easy to get together with friends and hang out with people they have never met before. This makes room for dangerous encounters with complete strangers, with an added danger of vehicle accidents due to texting and driving.

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Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.

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Aug 28
Tristan Brockbank (Aug 28 2018 3:59PM) : Increased suicide rates in teens of iGen. more

I see where the author is coming from, but she gives no examples of correlation between the increase in teen depression and suicide, and teen’s cell phones. She simply states that the deteriorating of teen’s mental help can be traced to cell phones.

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Aug 28
Patricia Estrada (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : High suicide rate due to phone use. more

Her claim of linking suicide and internet/phone use seems reasonable. It could be a possible reason as to why there is an increase in suicides in this generation, but it should also take into account other reasons that are probably more valid. She doesn’t provide much evidence that suicide is linked to phones.

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Aug 28
ozzie valdez (Aug 28 2018 4:05PM) : psychologically vulnerable youth [Edited] more

Yes I do believe that our generation psychologically is worn out and vulnerable. But I think that it has to do more with all the pressures and expectations that are put on us academically or otherwise. I believe that technology and social media gives us an outlet to help us, but also we abuse that and use it way to much. The abuse of it is what could and will potentially hurt us even more, not smartphones in general.

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Aug 28
Katelynn Smith (Aug 28 2018 4:00PM) : Maybe the stigma around mental health is lessening and that's why rates have risen. [Edited] more

Nowadays it’s much more socially ‘okay’ to have depression and suicidal thoughts because we are more fully able to address and help the situation. I think maybe it’s not the screen causing the thoughts, but the lessening of the stigma has allowed more people to feel safe sharing their stories.

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Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.

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Aug 28
Katie McGirt (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : It's not all our fault more

I like that the author mentions that phones are devices that older generations have “placed in young people’s hands,” because a lot of articles like this one seem to be about how terrible our generation is, when the technology was given to us, and we responded the same way that any one of the older generation would have responded at our age.

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Aug 29
Abigail Runnels (Aug 29 2018 7:52PM) : It is startling that though there are statistics showing the negative effects of screens, they are becoming more prevalent in schools, homes, and most everyday activities.
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Sep 3
student elena justice (Sep 03 2018 7:25PM) : technology is more damaging to a person than helpful more

my phone or social media accounts have never been the reason i have been un-happy. I think she is having a problem differentiating between what people do on social media to make others un-happy, than social media being the reason people are un-happy.

In the early 1970s, the photographer Bill Yates shot a series of portraits at the Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink in Tampa, Florida. In one, a shirtless teen stands with a large bottle of peppermint schnapps stuck in the waistband of his jeans. In another, a boy who looks no older than 12 poses with a cigarette in his mouth. The rink was a place where kids could get away from their parents and inhabit a world of their own, a world where they could drink, smoke, and make out in the backs of their cars. In stark black-and-white, the adolescent Boomers gaze at Yates’s camera with the self-confidence born of making your own choices—even if, perhaps especially if, your parents wouldn’t think they were the right ones.

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Fifteen years later, during my own teenage years as a member of Generation X, smoking had lost some of its romance, but independence was definitely still in. My friends and I plotted to get our driver’s license as soon as we could, making DMV appointments for the day we turned 16 and using our newfound freedom to escape the confines of our suburban neighborhood. Asked by our parents, “When will you be home?,” we replied, “When do I have to be?”

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But the allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.

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Aug 28
William Anderson (Aug 28 2018 4:01PM) : Technology has made independence less desirable to out generation. more

I disagree with this idea as I have never given up a step of independence for my phone or other technology. Most people I know would rather have social interaction rather than to stay home on their phones. Also in my experience most of the time when people stay home it is out of their control whether they can leave.

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Aug 29
Prof. Anthony Richardson (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : I agree with this, kids mostly ant to be independent, its usually when an outside factor like parents restricts it that a kid wouldn't favor social interaction.
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Aug 28
Ruby Phillips (Aug 28 2018 4:05PM) : Evidence that should not be referenced due to outstanding variables. more

I think that this statement is not viable evidence because it can be argued in so many different ways due to the associated variables. Kids may not be going out as much as their counter parts in the 80’s and 90’s but it is not only due to cellphone use. Factors such as geographical location, overall safety, transportation, and something that can be best described as paternal fear. Parents don’t allow their kids to go out because our world is not what it once used to be.

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Aug 29
Skye Fredericks (Aug 29 2018 10:51AM) : I disagree with this. Independence still has the same appeal to everyone I know of my generation. I feel as though she may have received skewed data, since experience with my own generation has taught me otherwise.
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Aug 28
Alexis DiGregorio (Aug 28 2018 4:00PM) : I disagree with this, I think that kids still want independence and still go out on their own even though they are able to connect with friends through their devices at home.
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Aug 28
Audrey Hendarto (Aug 28 2018 4:11PM) : I also disagree, I think that teens today still want to do things on their own and see each other in person even though their cellphones can make them feel connected as well when they aren't with each other.
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Aug 29
Anna Drossos (Aug 29 2018 10:37AM) : I also disagree with this statement. more

Kids my age continue to go out and participate in a multitude of activities with their friends on a daily basis. Cellphones, as Audrey said, allow us to be connected to the world when we are not together but do not influence how much we, as teenagers, go out.

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Aug 29
Lindsey Morton (Aug 29 2018 10:43AM) : Independence is still highly valued, it just has become much easier to find through technology. more

It isn’t that independence is any less alluring to teens, but that technology has provided new ways for teens to feel independent. Instead of having to go out and meet up with a friend to talk about something or catch up, they can simply call them or text them. Teens can find the sense of independence they seek by simply staying locked up in their room and connecting through the internet. Tension between parents and children is still high, so I don’t think kids are dying to stay at home and have family bonding time. Kids stay home and play on their phones because it is the easiest and most accessible way to connect with others searching for the same things.

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Aug 29
Mack Tarver Jr. (Aug 29 2018 10:49AM) : Kids my age dont always want to use their phones. [Edited] more

I disagree with this, due to the fact that teens today can use their devices to talk to friends while they are at home. Now a days kids want to get out of the house and experience things own their own. Teens still want to be teens without their cellphones.

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Aug 29
Raine Padawer (Aug 29 2018 10:42AM) : I also disagree with this statement. I believe teens still want to be independent and go out with friends and that this isn't strongly impacted by social media and cell phone use.
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Aug 29
Oakley Hill (Aug 29 2018 10:49AM) : . more

In this generation, I feel like it there is an independence, yes from our parents, but also from our peers. When you are on your phone, you can definitely chat with your friends, but I don’t think it will ever take the place of being with a person.

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Aug 29
2019 Hailey Grandy (Aug 29 2018 10:34AM) : This is an interesting fact, but I don't think it's neccesarily a bad thing. Just because kids don't go out doesn't mean that they should feel pressured to.

Today’s teens are also less likely to date. The initial stage of courtship, which Gen Xers called “liking” (as in “Ooh, he likes you!”), kids now call “talking”—an ironic choice for a generation that prefers texting to actual conversation. After two teens have “talked” for a while, they might start dating. But only about 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; for Boomers and Gen Xers, the number was about 85 percent.

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Aug 29
Bella Coronado (Aug 29 2018 10:39AM) : "Talking" more

Its really interesting how there has been a shift in courtship among teenagers. Although it is kind of a weird way to begin a relationship, I feel as though this allows teens to get to know each other more before they jump into a dating relationship. This article has a very negative tone, but I don’t think theres anything wrong with taking extra time online to get to know someone before you call them yours, and I also think that the author is wrong when she says that teens would prefer to text their significant other over seeing them in person.

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The decline in dating tracks with a decline in sexual activity. The drop is the sharpest for ninth-graders, among whom the number of sexually active teens has been cut by almost 40 percent since 1991. The average teen now has had sex for the first time by the spring of 11th grade, a full year later than the average Gen Xer. Fewer teens having sex has contributed to what many see as one of the most positive youth trends in recent years: The teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 percent since its modern peak, in 1991.

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Even driving, a symbol of adolescent freedom inscribed in American popular culture, from Rebel Without a Cause to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, has lost its appeal for today’s teens. Nearly all Boomer high-school students had their driver’s license by the spring of their senior year; more than one in four teens today still lack one at the end of high school. For some, Mom and Dad are such good chauffeurs that there’s no urgent need to drive. “My parents drove me everywhere and never complained, so I always had rides,” a 21-year-old student in San Diego told me. “I didn’t get my license until my mom told me I had to because she could not keep driving me to school.” She finally got her license six months after her 18th birthday. In conversation after conversation, teens described getting their license as something to be nagged into by their parents—a notion that would have been unthinkable to previous generations.

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Aug 28
Griffin Mozdy (Aug 28 2018 3:59PM) : This example of how teens don't even want to drive because they can just have their parents do it is testament to the addiction that my generation experiences with smartphones. The old sign of freedom and moving from adolescence to adulthood is obsolete
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Aug 28
Katelynn Smith (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : Teens are busy. more

As teens, we have busy lives and lots of extracurricular activities especially because college acceptance has gotten more selective. Some teens just don’t have time to take drivers ed and do all their hours while doing the activities they want and staying on top of their grades.

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Aug 28
Anika Weaver (Aug 28 2018 4:04PM) : I've noticed this trend with my brother and a lot of his friends. Most of them just barely got their licenses and my brother still doesn't have his despite living on his own and being in college. He just doesn't see why he should want to drive
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Aug 28
Katie McGirt (Aug 28 2018 4:09PM) : This isn't true in my (admittedly limited) experience. more

I know that she talked to multiple teens about this, but I’m not sure that I believe this is true. Most of the people I know were chomping at the bit to get their license when they turned 16, so that they could go out with their friends more easily.

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Aug 28
Maggie Condas (Aug 28 2018 4:09PM) : I think that through out this whole article, the author makes claims about things that could be connected but doesn't give room for there to be any other explanation. more
For example, some teens aren’t driving because they are simply to busy to take drivers’ ed until the summer before they leave for college. She blames the decline in teen drivers on phones without considering other explanations for the decline.
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Aug 29
Jill Nelson (Aug 29 2018 10:46AM) : I agree with Maggie. more

Throughout this article the author blames all of the “iGen” issues on our phones. There are other outside factors that play just as big of a role in our mental health, our work ethic and our social life, it is not just our phones that are affecting us in these ways.

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Aug 29
Clara Williamson (Aug 29 2018 10:49AM) : I agree with Maggie, smartphones are not a solid explanation in the decline of teen drivers. more

I agree with Maggie in the fact that while the statistics are true, there are alternate reasons for not getting a license besides a smartphone. Like Maggie says, there is more competition in today’s college admission process, which is time consuming.

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Aug 28
emmanuela androulidakis (Aug 28 2018 4:06PM) : I agree with teens of my generation not feeling as if driving is much of a necessity. This applies to me because I didn't get my learners permit till a week before my senior year. Also having parents and friends who drive me everywhere never motivated me.
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Aug 28
Tristan Brockbank (Aug 28 2018 4:11PM) : Teens & Driver's Licenses. more

This article spoke to teens feeling “nagged” by their parents to get their driver’s licenses. I am sure that their are some teenagers who feel that way, but I would care to disagree with the fact she states that teens think it’s some kind of burden to get their license. Most teens I know, who don’t already have their license, are very disappointed about it. Having a driver’s license means more freedom and independence. More freedom and independence are two things that I believe every modern teenager yearns for.

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Aug 29
Chris Athens (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : I thought this was really interesting because I kind of experienced something similar to this. I was not that motivated to get my licence, and my parents really pushed me to get it. I appreciate it now, but I think her point is becoming increasingly true.

Independence isn’t free—you need some money in your pocket to pay for gas, or for that bottle of schnapps. In earlier eras, kids worked in great numbers, eager to finance their freedom or prodded by their parents to learn the value of a dollar. But iGen teens aren’t working (or managing their own money) as much. In the late 1970s, 77 percent of high-school seniors worked for pay during the school year; by the mid-2010s, only 55 percent did. The number of eighth-graders who work for pay has been cut in half. These declines accelerated during the Great Recession, but teen employment has not bounced back, even though job availability has.

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Aug 28
Julissa Gonzalez (Aug 28 2018 4:04PM) : I agree and see where the author is coming with these numbers. more

Overall, we have seen a decline in kids going to work to earn money. We see a lot of kids working during the summer. But, during the school year, we hardly see kids working. The ones that don’t work is due to being involved in many activites in and out of school. Those kids that do work is mainly for them to earn money for them and their families.

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Aug 29
Prof. Anthony Richardson (Aug 29 2018 10:47AM) : I agree more

There are so many activities, clubs, responsibilities, and work that comes with school. This sometimes makes it hard or overwhelming to hold a job.

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Aug 29
Dr. Branigan Roy (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : Not sure about the applicability of this statement more

This statement and paragraph as whole, seem to not have much connection to what the author is trying to say about smartphone use. This issue, as the article states, can almost be attributed to a lack of parental pressure, which goes against what the article is trying to say about how iGen is responsible for their predicament.

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Aug 28
Grace Wise (Aug 28 2018 4:10PM) : Baby-boomers have made a society that focuses more on schooling than work. more

Baby-boomers have made a society that focuses more on schooling than work. No kid wants to work at a minimum-wage job that will have almost no benefit to them other than work experience, and baby-boomers have made an economy in which iGen can live comfortably without having to work and help out the family.

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Aug 28
ozzie valdez (Aug 28 2018 4:11PM) : I don't understand why the author put this sentence and paragraph in the article. It doesn't really add any value to her claim that smartphones are hurting the youth. if anything it just shows that teens are so overwhelmed with other tasks like... more

educational pressures, and extra curricular activities.

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Aug 29
Clara Williamson (Aug 29 2018 10:51AM) : Author more

I agree, Ozzie. This claim seems to refute her entire message, which is how smartphones are affecting us. Yet, the author chooses to include one of the many other explanations for almost any one of her other statistics.

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Of course, putting off the responsibilities of adulthood is not an iGen innovation. Gen Xers, in the 1990s, were the first to postpone the traditional markers of adulthood. Young Gen Xers were just about as likely to drive, drink alcohol, and date as young Boomers had been, and more likely to have sex and get pregnant as teens. But as they left their teenage years behind, Gen Xers married and started careers later than their Boomer predecessors had.

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Gen X managed to stretch adolescence beyond all previous limits: Its members started becoming adults earlier and finished becoming adults later. Beginning with Millennials and continuing with iGen, adolescence is contracting again—but only because its onset is being delayed. Across a range of behaviors—drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised— 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds. Childhood now stretches well into high school.

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Aug 28
Christopher Clyne (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : It is strange to consider how rites of passage change for different generations. more

iGen feels less of a need to outwardly express their independence in the ways of previous generations because they have their own private showrooms online. Rather than pulling up in a car to pick up a date, a member of iGen can simply snap a pretty selfie and send it to that special someone. And this can happen all without the knowledge of parents, thus synthesizing a false sense of maturity.

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Aug 28
Ruby Phillips (Aug 28 2018 4:12PM) : Personal experience in development more

One thing that has become very evident to me as this is my senior year of highschool is that along with adolescence mentally being delayed it is physically as well. When I was a freshman and sophomore the kids in the senior classes looked like full grown adults and acted like it too. Looking at my class and the way people look and act is nothing like those at this stage just a few years ago. This goes to show that there must be supporting evidence to this claim because of the way changes in us have taken a slower turn.

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Aug 28
Alexis DiGregorio (Aug 28 2018 4:05PM) : I agree with this statement, I think that millennials and iGen are stretching their childhood more than previous generations and taking on adult responsibilities at a much later age.
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Aug 29
Emma Graham (Aug 29 2018 10:44AM) : Technology does not stretch childhood into later years. more

While this might be evident in things like employment, dating, and sexual activity, it is not the case in my personal experience. Technology and social media has created a physical image for adolescents that looks grown and mature. Because these online “role models” look older and have achieved this new beauty standard, young children often try to replicate it by growing up faster than they should. For example, 12 and 13 year-olds try to look like the 25 year-old Instagram models they idolize, creating an older attitude and appearance in a much younger age group.

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Aug 29
James Colling (Aug 29 2018 10:49AM) : The negative connotation in this sentence stuck out to me for it's offensively argumentative mentality. more

When talking to the majority of my classmates about there sentiments on this article, I generally got the same reaction that the article was almost offensive in it’s own manner. This sentence suggesting that kids aren’t maturing and growing up I think would naturally be offensive to any teenager 15-18, that she is talking about. If you want to convince someone of your point, I feel like insulting them as a generation is not the best way of accomplishing such a goal.

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Why are today’s teens waiting longer to take on both the responsibilities and the pleasures of adulthood? Shifts in the economy, and parenting, certainly play a role. In an information economy that rewards higher education more than early work history, parents may be inclined to encourage their kids to stay home and study rather than to get a part-time job. Teens, in turn, seem to be content with this homebody arrangement—not because they’re so studious, but because their social life is lived on their phone. They don’t need to leave home to spend time with their friends.

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Aug 29
2019 Sera Cazares (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : School Over Job more

I think that as time goes on school and education gets more and more competitive. It’s harder to get into colleges and there is a lot of pressure to do exceptionally in school. I personally have a job but often times it gets in the way of my schooling and my parents say that if I can’t keep up with both the job will be the first to go, and I think that’s one of the big reasons a lot of kids don’t have jobs.

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Aug 29
Raine Padawer (Aug 29 2018 10:46AM) : Teens don’t need to leave home to spend time with their friends. more

I disagree with this statement, because I believe it depends on the kid. Some people do prefer staying in and others prefer to go out, but I don’t believe that this is solely dependent on smartphone use. Although you can still be in contact with friends over the phone it isn’t the same as spending time with them in person.

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If today’s teens were a generation of grinds, we’d see that in the data. But eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders in the 2010s actually spend less time on homework than Gen X teens did in the early 1990s. (High-school seniors headed for four-year colleges spend about the same amount of time on homework as their predecessors did.) The time that seniors spend on activities such as student clubs and sports and exercise has changed little in recent years. Combined with the decline in working for pay, this means iGen teens have more leisure time than Gen X teens did, not less.

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So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.

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Aug 29
Dr. Branigan Roy (Aug 29 2018 10:46AM) : Provocative more

This statement is mainly in there for shock value, and doesn’t have any hard evidence. The author is basically saying that if people aren’t hanging out with other peers, or working, then they must be in the bedroom. This might be just focusing to much on the word choice, but it still feels to much like the author was trying to look for shock value.

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One of the ironies of iGen life is that despite spending far more time under the same roof as their parents, today’s teens can hardly be said to be closer to their mothers and fathers than their predecessors were. “I’ve seen my friends with their families—they don’t talk to them,” Athena told me. “They just say ‘Okay, okay, whatever’ while they’re on their phones. They don’t pay attention to their family.” Like her peers, Athena is an expert at tuning out her parents so she can focus on her phone. She spent much of her summer keeping up with friends, but nearly all of it was over text or Snapchat. “I’ve been on my phone more than I’ve been with actual people,” she said. “My bed has, like, an imprint of my body.”

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In this, too, she is typical. The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015; the decline has been especially steep recently. It’s not only a matter of fewer kids partying; fewer kids are spending time simply hanging out. That’s something most teens used to do: nerds and jocks, poor kids and rich kids, C students and A students. The roller rink, the basketball court, the town pool, the local necking spot—they’ve all been replaced by virtual spaces accessed through apps and the web.

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Aug 28
Bella Ingham (Aug 28 2018 3:58PM) : Teens are spending less time with each other in person, and more seeing each other through a screen. She claims that teens are showing less interest in going out.
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Aug 28
Audrey Hendarto (Aug 28 2018 3:59PM) : Good Evidence: [Edited] more

The author had a persuasive argument since she had a lot of statistics to back up her claims as well as anecdotes from real people

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Aug 28
Julissa Gonzalez (Aug 28 2018 4:08PM) : Here, the author has brought up how teens nowadays are not partying, but not even hanging out anymore. more

Less and less teens are hanging out according to what Twenge is saying. When we go out and see teens together, they don’t really interact with the people they are with. Most of the time, they are looking and talking to others on their phones instead. Twenge thinks that we are replacing people with our phones and apps, which seems like it is happening.

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You might expect that teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not. The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and designed to be nationally representative, has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 1991. The survey asks teens how happy they are and also how much of their leisure time they spend on various activities, including nonscreen activities such as in-person social interaction and exercise, and, in recent years, screen activities such as using social media, texting, and browsing the web. The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

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Aug 28
Gwendolyn Orme (Aug 28 2018 4:05PM) : I would be interested to know if this applies to school as well. I wonder if students learn better or learn more happily when they do not use computers. In general, I think this unhappiness is due to a lack of human interaction not too much screen time.
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Aug 28
Patricia Estrada (Aug 28 2018 4:13PM) : The more time spent on screen activities, the more likely you'll be depressed. more

It is a little silly to say that being on your phone causes depression, but I can see the sense in it. Maybe a person is already depressed, so their phone is a safe place for them; an escape.

There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.

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Aug 29
Dr. Branigan Roy (Aug 29 2018 10:50AM) : I think this is an interesting idea about linking unhappiness to social media usage. I feel like there could be other factors on top of just social media usage that could contribute to this growing sense of unhappiness, such as school, or other pressures.
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Aug 31
Yulisa Padilla (Aug 31 2018 12:20AM) : Increased screen time (due to iphones) has become one of the causes behind the reason students are less happy. more

I highly agree with the statements made in this paragraph, because I think that they are reasonable and prove a great point. It makes sense that one would be less happy if they spend a great amount of time on their phones because they are most likely looking at social media which can have a variety of negative effects on someone. However, I also think that there are many more factors that play a role in the number of students who are said to be less happy.

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Aug 28
Maggie Condas (Aug 28 2018 4:03PM) : I think that this is very definitive statement and I'm not sure that the author can really say that there is "not a single exception
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Aug 28
Johnny Pernich (Aug 28 2018 4:10PM) : Humans require face to face interactions in order to be happy. More time online is linked to less happiness. more

This sentence was compelling today. Most people were ecstatic to receive their first phone or use social media for the first time. However, studies show that more time online leads to less happiness. I believe that is because for happiness we require social, face to face interactions with other people. Communication via snapchat or text won’t make you happy.

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Aug 28
Katherine MacPhail (Aug 28 2018 4:12PM) : I disagree in saying that there are "no exceptions." This sentence seems very close-minded and while she may want to strengthen her argument, the first two sentences in this paragraph made me want to disagree with her.
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Aug 29
Bella Coronado (Aug 29 2018 10:42AM) : Very Bold more

This is a hugely bold statement. Twenge argues that “there are no exceptions” to this statement. Not only is the statement very broad and general, the argument is pretty weak. This would be a really hard thing to test, and even if the results showed a correlation it would be hard to say whether the claims were directly linked to one another.

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Sep 4
student elena justice (Sep 04 2018 1:05AM) : not ALL more

I disagree with this statement because i don’t think that all screen time leads to unhappiness. If i face-time a friend to help me with homework i don’t see how that will immediately lead to me being unhappy.

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If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen. Of course, these analyses don’t unequivocally prove that screen time causes unhappiness; it’s possible that unhappy teens spend more time online. But recent research suggests that screen time, in particular social-media use, does indeed cause unhappiness. One study asked college students with a Facebook page to complete short surveys on their phone over the course of two weeks. They’d get a text message with a link five times a day, and report on their mood and how much they’d used Facebook. The more they’d used Facebook, the unhappier they felt, but feeling unhappy did not subsequently lead to more Facebook use.

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Aug 28
Grace Wise (Aug 28 2018 4:12PM) : I like how they point out that these results don't necessarily prove that screen time causes unhappiness in teens but it does affect it in one way or another.
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Social-networking sites like Facebook promise to connect us to friends. But the portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation. Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements “A lot of times I feel lonely,” “I often feel left out of things,” and “I often wish I had more good friends.” Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.

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Aug 28
Ari Elorreaga (Aug 28 2018 4:12PM) : I agree that online interaction doesn’t make people as happy as face to face interaction does. However, I don’t think that online interaction causes loneliness. It’s just not as satisfying as in-person.
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This doesn’t always mean that, on an individual level, kids who spend more time online are lonelier than kids who spend less time online. Teens who spend more time on social media also spend more time with their friends in person, on average—highly social teens are more social in both venues, and less social teens are less so. But at the generational level, when teens spend more time on smartphones and less time on in-person social interactions, loneliness is more common.

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Aug 30
Olivia Haddadin (Aug 30 2018 12:54AM) : Teens feel lonely when alone... more

This paragraph’s argument is very logical. If teens are just snapchatting a friend or texting as a replacement of physical interaction, they are likely to feel connected, but will not feel less alone than if they were just talking to a random person online. Physical human interaction is necessary for mental health as well as success in the world. When people are not around other people, their mental health may begin to deteriorate.

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So is depression. Once again, the effect of screen activities is unmistakable: The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.

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Aug 29
Raine Padawer (Aug 29 2018 10:50AM) : Depression can be linked to cell use more

I agree with this statement, because I do believe that many images we see in the media can be photoshopped and edited and can give kids a false sense of what things should really be like. In news, there are are a lot of depressing news stories that can bring people down as well

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Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan. (That’s much more than the risk related to, say, watching TV.) One piece of data that indirectly but stunningly captures kids’ growing isolation, for good and for bad: Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased. As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.

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Depression and suicide have many causes; too much technology is clearly not the only one. And the teen suicide rate was even higher in the 1990s, long before smartphones existed. Then again, about four times as many Americans now take antidepressants, which are often effective in treating severe depression, the type most strongly linked to suicide.

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What’s the connection between smartphones and the apparent psychological distress this generation is experiencing? For all their power to link kids day and night, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out. Today’s teens may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly—on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. Those not invited to come along are keenly aware of it. Accordingly, the number of teens who feel left out has reached all-time highs across age groups. Like the increase in loneliness, the upswing in feeling left out has been swift and significant.

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Aug 29
2019 Hailey Grandy (Aug 29 2018 10:37AM) : The author is claiming that teens are feeling more left out, and I absolutely agree with that statement. People love to take pictures with their friends so everybody knows they have a good life, or so it seems.
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This trend has been especially steep among girls. Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. Girls use social media more often, giving them additional opportunities to feel excluded and lonely when they see their friends or classmates getting together without them. Social media levy a psychic tax on the teen doing the posting as well, as she anxiously awaits the affirmation of comments and likes. When Athena posts pictures to Instagram, she told me, “I’m nervous about what people think and are going to say. It sometimes bugs me when I don’t get a certain amount of likes on a picture.”

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Aug 29
Bella Coronado (Aug 29 2018 10:46AM) : Social Agression more

This argument is true. Girls do use social media more often, as a crutch for self esteem and self worth. It also opens up the door for much more bullying. Instead of punching and hitting each other, girls prefer to use social aggression to bully, meaning they prefer to undermine another’s social status and make another feel left out. Additionally, it can be hurtful even when there was no malicious intent. Social media gives people the opportunity to realize all of the things they’re not invited to and feel bad about it.

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Girls have also borne the brunt of the rise in depressive symptoms among today’s teens. Boys’ depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls’ increased by 50 percent—more than twice as much. The rise in suicide, too, is more pronounced among girls. Although the rate increased for both sexes, three times as many 12-to-14-year-old girls killed themselves in 2015 as in 2007, compared with twice as many boys. The suicide rate is still higher for boys, in part because they use more-lethal methods, but girls are beginning to close the gap.

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Aug 28
Bella Ingham (Aug 28 2018 4:02PM) : The author has found evidence that teen girls are more susceptible to depression because of social media. The rate increased for both sexes, but there is more evidence to show that it its more prominent among young girls. [Edited] more

I believe that a lot of it could come from pressures from the media to look or act a certain way in order to be popular or fit into a certain group,.

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These more dire consequences for teenage girls could also be rooted in the fact that they’re more likely to experience cyberbullying. Boys tend to bully one another physically, while girls are more likely to do so by undermining a victim’s social status or relationships. Social media give middle- and high-school girls a platform on which to carry out the style of aggression they favor, ostracizing and excluding other girls around the clock.

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Social-media companies are of course aware of these problems, and to one degree or another have endeavored to prevent cyberbullying. But their various motivations are, to say the least, complex. A recently leaked Facebook document indicated that the company had been touting to advertisers its ability to determine teens’ emotional state based on their on-site behavior, and even to pinpoint “moments when young people need a confidence boost.” Facebook acknowledged that the document was real, but denied that it offers “tools to target people based on their emotional state.”

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Aug 28
Anika Weaver (Aug 28 2018 4:11PM) : It's actually interesting that Facebook admitted to knowing that they can tell a person's emotional state based on their activity, but don't necessarily do anything about it. I never thought about a company being able to do something like that before
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In July 2014, a 13-year-old girl in North Texas woke to the smell of something burning. Her phone had overheated and melted into the sheets. National news outlets picked up the story, stoking readers’ fears that their cellphone might spontaneously combust. To me, however, the flaming cellphone wasn’t the only surprising aspect of the story. Why, I wondered, would anyone sleep with her phone beside her in bed? It’s not as though you can surf the web while you’re sleeping. And who could slumber deeply inches from a buzzing phone?

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Aug 28
Johnny Pernich (Aug 28 2018 4:02PM) : Sleeping with your phone next to you or even in the same room as you can be very disastrous and disturbing to your sleep during the night. more

I personally sleep with my phone upstairs and I sleep better than when I sleep over at a friends house where I can keep my phone with my all night.

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Aug 29
Mack Tarver Jr. (Aug 29 2018 10:54AM) : Phones are distracting when it comes to sleeping. more

I agree with Johnny, Phones are very distracting when it comes to sleeping. You often want to check your phone when you hear sounds because of your notification and you stop trying to sleep just to check your phone.

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Aug 29
Oakley Hill (Aug 29 2018 10:52AM) : . more

I feel like cellphones have caused us to develop a sense of immediacy and non-pacience, that we take into the real world as well.

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Curious, I asked my undergraduate students at San Diego State University what they do with their phone while they sleep. Their answers were a profile in obsession. Nearly all slept with their phone, putting it under their pillow, on the mattress, or at the very least within arm’s reach of the bed. They checked social media right before they went to sleep, and reached for their phone as soon as they woke up in the morning (they had to—all of them used it as their alarm clock). Their phone was the last thing they saw before they went to sleep and the first thing they saw when they woke up. If they woke in the middle of the night, they often ended up looking at their phone. Some used the language of addiction. “I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it,” one said about looking at her phone while in bed. Others saw their phone as an extension of their body—or even like a lover: “Having my phone closer to me while I’m sleeping is a comfort.”

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Aug 28
Christopher Clyne (Aug 28 2018 4:09PM) : Sometimes the extent to which people are connected to their phones in ridiculous, as the author points out here. more

I get that people need to set alarms for themselves, but it can be done without the aid of a phone. Having that tether seems like never shirking a set of training wheels or a safety blanket. This pattern is reflected in what the author says is a noticeably later maturation of iGen members.

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Aug 29
sean parent (Aug 29 2018 10:47AM) : How can we change how connected we are to our phones? more

I admit that I am often on my phone when I am not doing anything else or wanting to avoid doing a piece of homework that will only take five minutes to do. I also admit that I have my phone as an alarm clock. However, over the past year I have been implementing ways on how I can avoid using my phone for something as critical as an alarm clock. Instead of only using my phone, I have a speaker system connected to an Ipod (one of the early ones that only plays music) and I use that every morning to wake up and I have to walk to it in order to turn it off. I then have secondary alarms set on my phone to go off seven minutes after and I keep my phone out of arm’s reach when I am in bed. Students can use these simple ideas to help them sleep better and worry less about what their friend is doing at one in the morning and also become more productive when waking up.

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Aug 29
Abigail Runnels (Aug 29 2018 8:19PM) : Technology today encompasses many areas of my life. more
I find it is is a comfort to have my phone near me because not only can i communicate with others, it also contains my alarm, calendar and clock all bundled into one hand-sized device. But because all our information is in one place, it becomes a distraction.
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It may be a comfort, but the smartphone is cutting into teens’ sleep: Many now sleep less than seven hours most nights. Sleep experts say that teens should get about nine hours of sleep a night; a teen who is getting less than seven hours a night is significantly sleep deprived. Fifty-seven percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. In just the four years from 2012 to 2015, 22 percent more teens failed to get seven hours of sleep.

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Aug 28
Gwendolyn Orme (Aug 28 2018 4:02PM) : I think that I lose a lot of sleep due to my phone being right next to my bed. If I cannot sleep even for a minute I will turn on my phone. These statistics are hard to understand though. I do not understand how many teens are sleep deprived due to the %s
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Aug 28
Bella Ingham (Aug 28 2018 4:08PM) : I agree that teens are getting less sleep because of their cell phones. I personally find that every time I have my phone on before I fall asleep, I never seem to sleep well. [Edited] more

From the authors survey, she concluded that many of the teenagers she interviewed claimed they got less sleep, as well as having bad sleeping patterns because of all the time spent on their phones. They claimed that it was the first thing they saw when they woke up, and the last thing they saw before going to sleep. Some even said that their phone is like an extension of their body.

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Aug 29
Emma Graham (Aug 29 2018 10:47AM) : Smartphones detract from sleep time. more

I completely agree with this statement. I often find myself staying up much later than I should because I feel inclined to check my social media and communicate with friends who are also up late.

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Aug 31
Yulisa Padilla (Aug 31 2018 12:27AM) : Smarphones are causing teens to become more sleep deprived. more

I think that a major reason teens are getting less sleep is due to iphones because of many reasons. When teens sleep, they like to have their phones right next to them so that they can hear their messages, alarms, etc. However, by keeping your phone close, you are unintentionally cutting your sleep time by a significant amount because whenever it makes a noise, you will most likely wake up and then sit on your phone until you decide to fall asleep again. I know this is true in many cases because I tend to do this a lot, as well as other friends who have told me they do it too.

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Aug 28
Katelynn Smith (Aug 28 2018 4:05PM) : Definitely agree. more

I fully agree with this. So many of my friends don’t sleep as much as they should.

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Aug 29
Lindsey Morton (Aug 29 2018 10:49AM) : Screens keep you awake more

Using screens before bed gives your body and brain a false sense of alertness. Because iGen teens are so used to having their phones right by their side at night, they think nothing of it, but smartphones most definitely disrupt the sleep schedule.

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Aug 29
Chris Athens (Aug 29 2018 10:45AM) : I completely agree with this. I have experienced and seen phones distract people and keep them up. Our generation has become so addicted to their phones that phones are cutting into some of our everyday needs.
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Aug 29
Jill Nelson (Aug 29 2018 10:50AM) : I sleep less when my phone is near me. more

I have found this claim to be true through my experience. When I wake up in the middle of the night and my phone is near me, I don’t go back to bed for at least an hour after i wake up. However, if my phone is not near me I just roll back over and go to back to sleep.

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Aug 28
emmanuela androulidakis (Aug 28 2018 4:10PM) : Personally this applies to me because my phone most time is the reason I am missing eight or more hours of sleep. It affects during the day where I cant concentrate as much. But I cant stop because I am so used to my phones presence.
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Aug 29
Abby McGowan (Aug 29 2018 10:45AM) : I agree, phones play a significant role in the lack of sleep among teens. However, this is an issue of lack of moderation among the entire population. If we were able to exercise moderation, many of the issues we are faced with wouldn't be as significant.
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The increase is suspiciously timed, once again starting around when most teens got a smartphone. Two national surveys show that teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 28 percent more likely to get less than seven hours of sleep than those who spend fewer than three hours, and teens who visit social-media sites every day are 19 percent more likely to be sleep deprived. A meta-analysis of studies on electronic-device use among children found similar results: Children who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly, and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day.

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Aug 29
Skye Fredericks (Aug 29 2018 10:55AM) : I agree that smartphones do interfere with our ability to sleep healthy amounts. more

Since our phones are so readily and easily available, it is easy to keep them in our bed with us. With access to social media and the internet in general, it is easy to keep yourself busy when you should be sleeping. I’ve also heard a lot lately on how the blue light on phone screens interferes with our ability to sleep

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Aug 30
Katherine MacPhail (Aug 30 2018 3:49PM) : I agree with this and can clearly see how phones can make teens sleep deprived. It is easy to become distracted and not go to sleep at a reasonable hour because of our devices.

Electronic devices and social media seem to have an especially strong ability to disrupt sleep. Teens who read books and magazines more often than the average are actually slightly less likely to be sleep deprived—either reading lulls them to sleep, or they can put the book down at bedtime. Watching TV for several hours a day is only weakly linked to sleeping less. But the allure of the smartphone is often too much to resist.

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Aug 28
Alexis DiGregorio (Aug 28 2018 4:11PM) : I agree with this, a lot of teens stay up later then they should because they get distracted on their phones or other electronic devices.
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Aug 30
Patricia Estrada (Aug 30 2018 9:38PM) : Phones are distracting. more

I believe this to be true. It is proven that just being on your phone at night can get you sleep deprived, but it also serves as a distraction. Teens instead of focusing on just doing homework, we often use our phones to procrastinate and so causing us to stay up later to finish it.

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Sleep deprivation is linked to myriad issues, including compromised thinking and reasoning, susceptibility to illness, weight gain, and high blood pressure. It also affects mood: People who don’t sleep enough are prone to depression and anxiety. Again, it’s difficult to trace the precise paths of causation. Smartphones could be causing lack of sleep, which leads to depression, or the phones could be causing depression, which leads to lack of sleep. Or some other factor could be causing both depression and sleep deprivation to rise. But the smartphone, its blue light glowing in the dark, is likely playing a nefarious role.

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Aug 29
Anna Drossos (Aug 29 2018 10:41AM) : I agree with this more

I agree that the smartphone and technology we have at our fingertips has decreased the average amount of sleep we, as a generation, are receiving. Due to our constant ability to be connected to the world and its happenings it can become difficult to disconnect or not spend hours catching up on what you have missed. Due to our generations busy schedule, I find that we commonly check our phones at night, postponing sleep.

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The correlations between depression and smartphone use are strong enough to suggest that more parents should be telling their kids to put down their phone. As the technology writer Nick Bilton has reported, it’s a policy some Silicon Valley executives follow. Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world.

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Aug 29
2019 Hailey Grandy (Aug 29 2018 10:40AM) : I agree with this claim. I think parents should monitor use of phones. It isn't good for anyone to spend too much time on them, but kids and teens aren't often mature enough to realize it.
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What’s at stake isn’t just how kids experience adolescence. The constant presence of smartphones is likely to affect them well into adulthood. Among people who suffer an episode of depression, at least half become depressed again later in life. Adolescence is a key time for developing social skills; as teens spend less time with their friends face-to-face, they have fewer opportunities to practice them. In the next decade, we may see more adults who know just the right emoji for a situation, but not the right facial expression.

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Aug 29
James Colling (Aug 29 2018 10:52AM) : Out of the article, this sentence rang most true for me. more

This sentence talks about the ever constant presence of smartphones will undoubtedly affect children growing up today into adulthood. I would have to agree with the author on this, smartphones are such a big factor in everyone’s lives that it would be negligent to think that this change won’t have an effect on the next generation.

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Sep 4
student elena justice (Sep 04 2018 1:07AM) : how will it effect them? more

I agree with this statement but i ant to know how will it effect kids. Positively or negatively.

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Aug 28
William Anderson (Aug 28 2018 4:10PM) : Teens are spending less time socializing. more

Out of this entire article this is what I agree with the most. Younger people do struggle with social skills more than other generations. Whether this directly correlates to phone usage or not, it is definitely true in my experience of seeing how others interact.

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I realize that restricting technology might be an unrealistic demand to impose on a generation of kids so accustomed to being wired at all times. My three daughters were born in 2006, 2009, and 2012. They’re not yet old enough to display the traits of iGen teens, but I have already witnessed firsthand just how ingrained new media are in their young lives. I’ve observed my toddler, barely old enough to walk, confidently swiping her way through an iPad. I’ve experienced my 6-year-old asking for her own cellphone. I’ve overheard my 9-year-old discussing the latest app to sweep the fourth grade. Prying the phone out of our kids’ hands will be difficult, even more so than the quixotic efforts of my parents’ generation to get their kids to turn off MTV and get some fresh air. But more seems to be at stake in urging teens to use their phone responsibly, and there are benefits to be gained even if all we instill in our children is the importance of moderation. Significant effects on both mental health and sleep time appear after two or more hours a day on electronic devices. The average teen spends about two and a half hours a day on electronic devices. Some mild boundary-setting could keep kids from falling into harmful habits.

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Aug 29
2019 Sera Cazares (Aug 29 2018 10:44AM) : Awareness more

I fully agree that curtailing the use of smartphones and technology is unrealistic – they are too prevalent and necessary in everyday life. think rather that it would help a lot for teens to be aware of their effect on them and to set boundaries for themselves and stick to them.

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Aug 29
sean parent (Aug 29 2018 10:52AM) : If this concerns you, why not change it? more

I didn’t get my own cell phone until I was in sixth grade. Even then it was still only this little phone that could only call, text, and take pictures. I didn’t get a smartphone until eighth grade. If parents are concerned with their ninth grader talking about apps and the use of smartphones, then why are they letting them own one? If we want to see change in young kids and teenagers, then we first have to change our actions as well. We cannot be the enablers that allow a sixth grader to feel bad about themselves because all they do is spend time on social media and not with their actual friends. We allow children and teens to feel ostracized, but we are the ones who cause it all.

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In my conversations with teens, I saw hopeful signs that kids themselves are beginning to link some of their troubles to their ever-present phone. Athena told me that when she does spend time with her friends in person, they are often looking at their device instead of at her. “I’m trying to talk to them about something, and they don’t actually look at my face,” she said. “They’re looking at their phone, or they’re looking at their Apple Watch.” “What does that feel like, when you’re trying to talk to somebody face-to-face and they’re not looking at you?,” I asked. “It kind of hurts,” she said. “It hurts. I know my parents’ generation didn’t do that. I could be talking about something super important to me, and they wouldn’t even be listening.”

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Aug 28
Griffin Mozdy (Aug 28 2018 4:01PM) : Even the main character, Athena, is affected by smartphone addiction; when she is trying to talk to her friends and all they do is sit on their phones, it hurts her feelings. Smartphones have completely changed the ways people interact with each other.
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Aug 30
Olivia Haddadin (Aug 30 2018 12:59AM) : Talking face to face is becoming less natural more

While talking to someone in the halls at school means looking at them, when people are just hanging out, it is less common to actually make eye contact with the person they are talking to. I don’t think it is offensive, but in some cases can be a sign that the person being spoken to is in a pensive state.

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Once, she told me, she was hanging out with a friend who was texting her boyfriend. “I was trying to talk to her about my family, and what was going on, and she was like, ‘Uh-huh, yeah, whatever.’ So I took her phone out of her hands and I threw it at my wall.”

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Aug 28
Johnny Pernich (Aug 28 2018 4:07PM) : Smartphones are destroying our social lives. more

Have you ever been to a restaurant and see a couple or a whole family sitting on their phones and not even talking? In my opinion, that’s ridiculous. Our social lives are beginning to crumble because we are loosing the ability to communicate in person and we rely on texting to communicate. As humans, we rely on other human social interactions for survival.

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I couldn’t help laughing. “You play volleyball,” I said. “Do you have a pretty good arm?” “Yep,” she replied.

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First published in The Atlantic, September 2017

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This article has been adapted from Jean M. Twenge's forthcoming book, 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.

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DMU Timestamp: August 22, 2018 19:40

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Aug 29
madeleine gaztambide (Aug 29 2018 10:51AM) : Smartphone/social media addiction and obsession is a real problem, but not to the extreme extent talked about in this article. more

Jean Twenge, the author of this article refers to our generation as iGen, and while this may be true, I believe she left out some and exaggerated other aspects of this technology filled generation. One of her main claims was that kids today don’t want to leave their house and the safety of their phones, but I found this to be the exact opposite of my life and the lives of the people around me. When I’m on my phone at home I’m constantly trying to make plans and meet up with my friends. When I’m out with my friends, I often use my phone to respond to my mother who’s been furiously texting me asking when I’ll be home. She states that teenagers today are statistically more depressed and lonesome than those of any other generation. I believe this claim to be true, but I don’t directly place the blame on our phones. Teenagers today are under an insane amount of pressure, much more than our parents ever were with school, sports, social living, and much, much more. Not only that, but people are much more educated and open about their mental illnesses making them more likely to seek assistance in treating their depression. Many other claims were made, but these two stuck out the most, having me rather annoyed with their lack of accuracy.

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