Jean Twenge: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? The Atlantic, September 2017
Abrupt shifts …
Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.
Through the WI Lens
This week’s article has already attracted considerable attention in the media and for good reason: for the first time, a psychologist has identified in convincing, yet straightforward terms the smart phone and the social media as the culprits that have brought the younger generation to the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. The correlation is strong: the more time teens spend looking at their screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. And the advice a clear: “Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen.”
More and more scientists are now of the opinion that our digital devices and the platforms behind them are “hijacking our minds”: keeping us hooked to our screen for as long and as frequently as possible. For investors and practitioners, the consequences are twofold: (1) The way in which we relate to our phones and use social media will become increasingly scrutinized in terms of the effects it has on wellbeing – with policy implications at the level of governments and companies; (2) The “detox” industry is currently booming: digital detox retreats, hotels, seminars and so on have a bright future ahead of them.
Five months ago we had already included a session on Digital Detox in the program of our forthcoming ‘Summit of Minds’ in Chamonix. This article came as no surprise to us at WELL Intelligence.
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”