In a study which was published in the Emotion journal, psychologists from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia displayed records which suggested that the teenagers in the US have showed a steep decline in happiness and low self- esteem since the year 2012.
And they seem to be linking it to the rising use of technology and the position it has taken in our lives. The introduction of smartphones in the US market and its entry into a common man’s life in the year 2007 seems to have caused this.
Introduced in America in the year 2007, people were seen embracing smartphones unlike anything. And five years down the line, i.e., by 2012, almost half of the US teens owned a smartphone. Infact the craze for smartphones rose to such an extent over the coming years that by 2016, almost two third of the teens had an iPhone in their pockets.
Even though India was late to the party, it witnessed a similar surge in smartphone acceptability, primarily from the teens.
Contrasting results, Addiction remains:
While several years have passed since the introduction of smartphones globally, numerous researches have studied the uses, causes and effects of advancing technology. On one hand, some studies indicate that the more time one spends online, the more it works in their favour and boosts their self-esteem and helps them be happier and socially relevant; while other studies indicate the opposite.
But a commonly observed trend is the rising dependence and time spent, especially by teens, not on basic electronic communication like net browsing and exchanging messages but has become more inclined towards more advanced uses like social media, texting, electronic games, the internet, which works towards isolating them from their friends and family and makes them anti-social.
Don’t blame it on the money:
While the Great Recession in the US did affect the income of several households, little did it affect the addiction. The researchers have written on the situation and said, “The sudden shift in well-being around 2012-13 suggests that the trends in adolescent time use reached a tipping point around that year, perhaps due to the market saturation of smartphones in that period.” And they have concluded the study by linking a dip in self-esteem and happiness to the ‘maddening’ use of smartphones.
In fact, they noted, that after teen ownership of smartphones began to stabilise in 2014-15, so, too, did the national decline in teen happiness and self-esteem. It’s possible that adults also experienced a change in happiness as smartphones proliferated.
Smartphones, which have become a necessary evil, have continuously been ‘affecting’ us and our lifestyles immensely and they have become more of a ‘need’ than ‘want’. This needs to be tackled not only at an individual level but also proper parenting is needed which differentiates between ‘use’ and ‘over use’.