Column: Do Phones Hurt Kids’ Mental Health? SDSU Researcher Says Yes

The San Diego Tribune’s Diane Bell has this interview with psychologist and author Jean Twenge on research showing the negative mental-health impact of social media on adolescents, particularly girls: 

“Shock. That is the only way to describe my reaction to the deterioration of teen mental health documented by prominent local researcher Jean Twenge.

She is a professor at San Diego State University, a number cruncher who makes sense of information gleaned from myriad studies, polls and statistics gathered by government health agencies, universities and other sources.

Twenge translates what the data say regarding changing generations of Americans in her newest book, ‘Generations,’ released by Simon and Schuster April 25.  . . 

Every indicator of mental health and well-being that she examined has declined among U.S. teens and young adults since 2012. “The trends are stunning in their consistency, breadth and size,” Twenge writes. “There is a full-blown mental health crisis among young people, and it was building long before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Some of her conclusions, all backed by charts and graphs of large, reputable studies, include:

  • Gen Z teens (born between 1995 and 2012) are markedly more lonely than previous generations of the same ages.
  • Beginning about 2012, the Gen Zers started exhibiting signs of depression and self-doubt.
  • The number of teens with clinical-level depression doubled between 2011 and 2019.
  • Girls fared worse than boys: By 2020, 1 of 4 teen girls experienced clinical-level depression, compared to 1 in 12 teen boys.
  • The rate of 10-to-14-year-old girls going to the ER for self-harm quadrupled from 2010-2021.
  • ER admissions for suicide attempts among teens doubled between 2008 and 2014.”

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