Are Cell Phones Hazardous to Your Kids’ Health? The Jury is In and the Verdict is Unanimous

Young boy on cell phone under duvet Time to Stop and Rejigger The Masts.  If you have kids who are using smart phones, save them while you still can.

Here are some important reads.

Is Social Media The New Tobacco?

Instagram, Snapchat and others have a business model based on addiction. This is not how we want to be raising our children.

Notable Quotes:

““Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011,” Twenge writes, coining the cringeworthy term “iGen” to describe today’s young teenagers. “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.”

“Three out of four American teenagers own a smartphone, and they grew up with an entirely new kind of social topography: They live their lives on Snapchat and Instagram, in a kind of social purgatory where their adolescent brains?—?so eager for validation and approval?—?are constantly inflamed by the drama of the now. Anyone with teenage children understands this drama, but when it’s conducted on a stage free of adult role models, the result looks an awful lot like the Lord of the Flies.”

 

The Binge Breaker

Tristan Harris believes Silicon Valley is addicting us to our phones. He’s determined to make it stop.

Notable Quotes:

“Never before in history have the decisions of a handful of designers (mostly men, white, living in SF, aged 25–35) working at 3 companies”—Google, Apple, and Facebook—“had so much impact on how millions of people around the world spend their attention …”

“The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Harris calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.”

“…a niche group of consultants has emerged to teach companies how to make their services irresistible. One such guru is Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, who has lectured or consulted for firms such as LinkedIn and Instagram. A blog post he wrote touting the value of variable rewards is titled “Want to Hook Your Users? Drive Them Crazy.”

“Currently, though, the trend is toward deeper manipulation in ever more sophisticated forms. Harris fears that Snapchat’s tactics for hooking users make Facebook’s look quaint. Facebook automatically tells a message’s sender when the recipient reads the note—a design choice that, per Fogg’s logic, activates our hardwired sense of social reciprocity and encourages the recipient to respond. Snapchat ups the ante: Unless the default settings are changed, users are informed the instant a friend begins typing a message to them—which effectively makes it a faux pas not to finish a message you start. Harris worries that the app’s Snapstreak feature, which displays how many days in a row two friends have snapped each other and rewards their loyalty with an emoji, seems to have been pulled straight from Fogg’s inventory of persuasive tactics. Research shared with Harris by Emily Weinstein, a Harvard doctoral candidate, shows that Snapstreak is driving some teenagers nuts—to the point that before going on vacation, they give friends their log-in information and beg them to snap in their stead. “To be honest, it made me sick to my stomach to hear these anecdotes,” Harris told me.”

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

Notable Quotes:

“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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