Why Are Teens in Crisis? Here’s What the Evidence Says.

At The New York Times, the latest episode of the “The Ezra Klein Show” podcast features an interview with psychologist and author Jean Twenge on the data showing negative mental-health effects of smartphones and social media on youth worldwide.

As she states: 

“I work with these large national surveys, often of teens. And I’ve been doing that for a number of years. So when I first started to see these trends, they were surprising, because they were so sudden. So around 2012, more and more teens started to say they felt lonely and left out. And more started to say they felt like they couldn’t do anything right, or that they didn’t enjoy life. Those last two are classic symptoms of depression.

Then, other data started to pop up. Clinical level depression that requires treatment started to rise. Emergency room admissions for self-harm started to rise in C.D.C. data. Same thing for suicide attempts and completed suicides. So at first, I thought it might be a blip, a year or two of data. But it kept going. So for example, between 2011 and 2019, well before the pandemic, clinical level depression among teens doubled. Emergency room admissions for self harm tripled in 10 to 14-year-old girls.

So this is why I say we know it’s not just the pandemic.”

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