Fear the Blue Light

High school parties are all the rage.. at least they used to be. We see them through different channels like movies and television and have an idea of how to throw an ideal house party to make your name be shown in the top 10 Google search engines (SEO joke). We have a new generation known as the iGeners, made up of people born after 1995 and they have a problem.

This problem is known as ‘screen time’ which refers to the amount of time spent looking at your phone and not the world around you. This new generation does not remember when the internet became the internet, got a cell phone early into adolescence, and was Instagramming before they could speak. The addiction to social media is beginning to increase and at a dramatic rate, if you haven’t watched Simon Sinek talk about “the imbalance between social media and social interaction” you should give it a watch and understand where he is coming from. It mainly talks about understanding empathy in organizations but can be applied to other areas, such as studying new generations.

To compare, Millenials were the generation before and were known for being highly individualistic and narcissistic but this has been an ongoing thing since the Baby Boomers. The difference here is how the Millenials and the iGeners view the world and spend their time. In fact, a 2017 survey resulted from that out of 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

Is that Apple’s positioning approach?  An easy-to-use, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing device that allows you to access social media without even skipping a beat? No, it’s not the iPhone’s fault but a much broader idea. It’s how we are using our time, and most importantly how we are seeing the world. The introduction of the smartphone has drastically changed how iGener’s go about social interactions and the impact on mental health. For example, rates of teenage depression and suicide have been increasing since 2011 and are starting to present an epidemic among a generation. When I read this article I remember a time when Pokemon cards were the trend in school and how educational institutions had to change policies based on how these behaviors were affecting curriculum. The same principle can be applied to the introduction of smartphones because there is no single factor that defines a generation.

In the 1980’s, John Hughes, a popular filmmaker made films about high school parties and targeted all the different kinds students found in schools. With the iGeners, John Hughes films can be categorized with popular films like Star Wars, The Avengers, Star Trek, etc. John Hughes films are fantasy films now, they do not exist in reality. This is because iGener’s are now spending their time not with friends or social interaction, but spending their free time on social media alone in their room and distressed from what everyone else is doing. The more time that this generation spends on their phone are more likely to be unhappy. Wired Magazine came out with an article stating that “an hour a day less spent with friends is an hour a day less spent building social skills, negotiating relationships, and navigating emotions.”

We need to understand how much “screen time” we spend instead of building our professional goals and teach future generations the impact in can have on productivity.

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