I used this space last week to write about the very real concern of our children isolating themselves by spending too much time on their smartphones. Studies show that pre-teens and teens are spending six to nine hours a day consuming media, mostly on their phones. Studies also show that those same pre-teens and teens are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and suicide than those who do not isolate themselves with their smartphones. We know these things if for no other reason than because I’ve been harping on them for weeks now! But has anyone seen studies on why our teens are giving their smartphones so much attention and thereby isolating themselves from humanity? I know there is more than one reason, but I want to suggest that at least one reason is the creators of social media apps planned it that way from the beginning.
Smartphones were turned loose on the world in 2007. How many of us have stopped to think that the average fifth grader has never known a world without smartphones? Today’s seventh graders were only two years old in 2007, so it is doubtful they can access much memory before smartphones. These children have always had the power of the internet and everything it brings with it right at their fingertips on their parents’ phones. Now they have it right in their back pockets because the average American child receives his first smartphone at the ripe old age of 10 (Psychology Today). As you might expect, that little number comes with some baggage.