Go ahead and throw your phone at the wall (after you read this, of course)

Here’s something to consider:

Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. 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.

iGen is the term given by Jean M. Twenge, the author of this recent piece in The Atlantic, to describe the post-millenial generation (finally, a new cohort to worry over!). I love her choice of name, but I wonder if she missed something in ascribing this trend almost entirely to the social stress linked to social media–that it “exacerbate[s] the age-old teen concern about being left out,” as she puts it.

I can’t help but think–completely unscientifically–that at least a good amount of the trouble could be due to the fact that these kids are not ever really doinganything. To have self-confidence, resilience, the basic sense of purpose needed for even moderate well-being, one needs to first develop a self, and to do that requires interacting intentionally and independently with the real world: learning skills, solving problems, completing tasks, breaking and making things and having feelings about it. In short, they are missing the stuff of life. No wonder they are missing the point of living it.

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