So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed. She spent much of her summer keeping up with friends, but nearly all of it was over text or Snapchat. 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 to ; the decline has been especially steep recently.
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, questions every year since and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 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. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. 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. 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.
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. 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 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. 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.
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.
As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In , for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate. 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 s, 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.
For all their power to link kids day and night, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out. 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. This trend has been especially steep among girls. Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in than in , 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. The rise in suicide, too, is more pronounced among girls. Although the rate increased for both sexes, three times as many toyear-old girls killed themselves in as in , compared with twice as many boys.
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The suicide rate is still higher for boys, in part because they use more-lethal methods, but girls are beginning to close the gap. 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.
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. I n July , a year-old girl in North Texas woke to the smell of something burning.
Her phone had overheated and melted into the sheets. Why , I wondered, would anyone sleep with her phone beside her in bed? And who could slumber deeply inches from a buzzing phone? 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.
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. 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 than in In just the four years from to , 22 percent more teens failed to get seven hours of sleep. 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. 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. Sleep deprivation is linked to myriad issues, including compromised thinking and reasoning, susceptibility to illness, weight gain, and high blood pressure. 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. T he correlations between depression and smartphone use are strong enough to suggest that more parents should be telling their kids to put down their phone. 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. 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 , , and 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. 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. Once, she told me, she was hanging out with a friend who was texting her boyfriend. This article has been adapted from Jean M. He is using the office he holds to advance his extraordinary lifetime project of assigning unchecked power to the president. Donald Trump disdains, more than anything else, the limitations of checks and balances on his power. Five years ago, the flight vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.
At a. The designator for Malaysia Airlines is MH. The flight number was Fariq Hamid, the first officer, was flying the airplane. He was 27 years old. This was a training flight for him, the last one; he would soon be fully certified. His trainer was the pilot in command, a man named Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who at 53 was one of the most senior captains at Malaysia Airlines. In Malaysian style, he was known by his first name, Zaharie.
He was married and had three adult children. He lived in a gated development. He owned two houses. In his first house he had installed an elaborate Microsoft flight simulator. There are the vital signs: heart and respiratory rates and body temperature. Sometimes blood pressure. These are critical in emergencies. But in day-to-day life, the normalcy of those numbers is expected. The most common numbers are age and body weight. The U. This number has come to be massively consequential in the lives of millions of people, and to influence the movement of billions of dollars.
These words came from an elderly woman sitting behind me on a late-night flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D. The plane was dark and quiet. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. The richness of her narrative, combined with the almost panicked storytelling make for a compelling look into life in a s mental hospital. Despite the controversy surrounding the veracity of the stories in this work, Frey illustrates an authentic journey into and eventually out of inpatient treatment.
A Million Little Pieces also deftly explores the complicated role that family plays in treatment. Having grown up in New York City, Vizzini created a semi-autobiographical young adult story of a privileged New York City teenager trudging through the depths of depression, who learns in treatment that he has talents that he can use to aid in his recovery.
The institution is one of those dangerous and corrupt fictional places that have haunted and fascinated readers for generations. Great Apes by Will Self The worlds of mental health treatment and addiction counselling are often despondent and difficult. In fictional and historical portrayals, catastrophic ends and dreadful environments are ubiquitous. Call in Will Self and his superbly satirical and thought-provoking novel, where humans and chimpanzees have switched places in the pecking order, for the comic relief we have been craving. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous Although there is controversy surrounding the presentation of this book as an actual journal when it is a work of fiction, I find it an excellent representation of the fears and anxieties of adolescence that, in the case of the protagonist, lead to experimenting and self-medicating with drugs, which eventually result in her hospitalisation.
The vulnerability the author expresses feels at times almost too much to bear. A work of somewhat autobiographical fiction, the story takes readers on an extraordinary journey into the mind of Esther Greenwood as she descends into madness. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Fiction Top 10s. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded.