‘It’s Causing Them to Drop Out of Life’: How Phones Warped Gen Z

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  • Source: Politico
  • 03/25/2024
It’s hard to believe sometimes that smartphones and social media haven’t been around forever — but for one generation, they have. Gen Z doesn’t know a time when they weren’t ubiquitous. This cohort also happens to be the generation with the worst mental health in America. Is that a coincidence?

The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has reams of data to argue it’s not. And in his new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, he is launching a shot in what he hopes will become a full-scale war against social media and smartphone use by kids and teens.
“Our children are going on a conveyor belt,” Haidt tells me. “And a lot of them are getting shredded.”

Through his research, which he also highlights on his Substack, “After Babel,” Haidt found that teen mental health has dramatically worsened after iPhone usage became widespread and Instagram was created. While he blames Instagram for causing the most initial damage of the new era — particularly in fueling declining mental health for girls — he now sees a new, graver threat. “TikTok is arguably the worst consumer product ever invented,” says Haidt, who’s a strong supporter of legislation targeting TikTok in Congress.
young men holding iPhone 11 Pro by Jonas Leupe is licensed under Unsplash unsplash.com

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