“I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
Take a moment to let those words sink in, the words of a 13-year-old girl who is growing up in a generation that has never lived without the Internet or without smartphones. A generation that according to Dr. Jean M. Twenge, has developed a far less rebellious side and is more tolerant than its predecessors, yet continues to see a rise in depression. Fortunately, as we’ll point out later on, there are some steps you can take to help limit your teen’s dependency on the smartphone!
It may seem overly dramatic to claim that “smartphones are ruining a generation,” yet we must admit that this “iGen” (children born between 1995 and 2012) dependence on them is concerning. Data shows that almost 70 percent of 11- to 12-year-olds use a mobile phone, with that number increases to nearly 90 percent by age 14. Some 56 percent of children between ages 10 and 13 own a smartphone. It’s pretty much commonplace for an adolescent to have a smartphone, and their screen time remains something that is very concerning.
Twenge points out in her Atlantic article that while iGen kids are physically safer than teens have ever been, they are far more vulnerable than Millennials were for teen depression and suicide. The constant need to be on a smartphone can also have some negative impacts on the health of teenagers, as inactivity can lead to weight gain, loss of sleep due to staying up too late, and even injuries to thumbs or wrists. According to Twenge, all screen time can be linked to less happiness, despite reports that up to six hours a day are safe for teens as long as they are “doing well in school.”
Have you noticed that your teen’s behavior seems to be directly linked to the smartphone that’s an extension of his or her hand? Is your child beginning to show signs of communication struggles or seeming more and more withdrawn?
There are ways to help tone down your teen’s smartphone usage! According to Scary Mommy, there are five specific things you can do to tone down your kids’ dependence: limiting daily use, keeping the phone nearby so they can’t hide away in their bedroom with it, taking their phone with you at bedtime, dangling the smartphone “like a carrot” whenever you can and always knowing the password to unlock the phone!
Remember that Drama Kids International has programs especially tailored to tap into your teen’s communication skills and encourages healthy self-esteem and self-confidence in all who participate! Reach out to your local Drama Kids and see what we can offer your child!