Has Steve Jobs’ iPhone destroyed a generation?

“One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone — she’s had an iPhone since she was 11 — sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends,” Jean M. Twenge writes for The Atlantic. “She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. ‘We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.'”

“I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out,” Twenge writes. “I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.”

“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,” Twenge writes. “What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? …It was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.”

Apple's revolutionary iPhone
Apple’s revolutionary iPhone

“The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet,” Twenge writes. “iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.”

“More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been,” Twenge writes. “Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”

Reams more in the full article – very highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: revolutionary |ˌrevəˈlo͞oSHəˌnerē|

1 involving or causing a complete or dramatic change: Apple’s revolutionary iPhone.
2 engaged in or promoting revolution: Apple’s revolutionary iPhone.

Good parenting is good parenting.

For even more proof that Steve Jobs was an unparalleled visionary (as if we needed any), from The New York Times, September 10, 2014, Nick Bilton recounts a conversation he had with Steve Jobs in late 2010:

Bilton: So, your kids must love the iPad?
Jobs: They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.

“Since then, I’ve met a number of technology chief executives and venture capitalists who say similar things: they strictly limit their children’s screen time, often banning all gadgets on school nights, and allocating ascetic time limits on weekends,” Bilton reported. “I was perplexed by this parenting style. After all, most parents seem to take the opposite approach, letting their children bathe in the glow of tablets, smartphones and computers, day and night.”

Bilton reported, “Yet these tech C.E.O.’s seem to know something that the rest of us don’t.”

Read more in the full article here.

Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent – September 11, 2014


  1. That’s a pretty harsh description of the generation. I think it improved the generation, personally because you have all this information and you can take it with you. I loved the 1990s, but even I agree that the iPhone is the best thing from the 21st century since the Sega Dreamcast.

    1. I think smartphones are great too, but I wouldn’t want to be a teenager in this era. Back when I was a kid, when you were home you were at HOME, and you left whatever drama/anxiety/fears you had at school AT SCHOOL. Now if, for example, you have a bully at school, that bully comes home with you and continues to bully you throughout the evening. Fuck that shit. Glad I was an adult before the smartphone era began.

      1. Bullying is the fault of the bully himself or herself. The parents of the bully and school administrators who do nothing to stop the bully are the enablers. If parents and school officials would actually stand up to the bullies by making them stop, in-person and online bullying would decrease dramatically.

        Sadly, there seems to be very little action taking place. When a bully recognizes there are no consequences for his or her behavior, they simply continue. It’s all due to the moronic way which kids are treated these days: every kid gets a ribbon for showing up, use social promotion to let failing kids advance to the next grade level, and do not ever attempt to correct the behavior of the disruptive, bullying child.

        The movie Idiocracy should be required viewing for every person on the planet. At this point, though, its message would be missed by a huge percentage of the population.

        1. “school administrators who do nothing to stop the bully are the enablers.” I worked in a staff position in a school relating to discipline matters until the end of this last school year.

          With 1600 students translating to well over 1000 devices in the school, it was a 7:30-5:00 ( later counting activities), if you think its remotely possible to catch more than 5-10% of the cyber bullying activities and MUCH MUCH harder to make a law enforcement level offense fly in the legal system, you ……..just havent been there. Add in the parents thinking that the activity was “cute” well………..nothing more I can say. Add in students walking into walls, falling down stairs while texting. Parents will not back us on banning devices altogether……Again..no point in my trying to say any more.

          1. Taking a hint from the manga/anime “Accel World”, it might be time to create closed networks in schools where excepting reference access to search sites, all social network activity MUST go through school managed Social Network Systems while on campus. Might be difficult however to block cellular data connections.

            A closed network would also benefit the school by creating a well defined area of responsibility which may help in both protecting teachers and students from outside access as well as possibly legal and insurance related liability issues.

            1. You would be amazed how many students have VPN’s!

              And of the over 1000 devices in student hands, I would say 90% used cellular data.

              I used one myself.

  2. Trying to get my 13year old daughter to “hang out”…or even talk on the phone with her friends..they don’t do that anymore (at least not like my generation). There is truth to this. Is it bad, time will tell.

    1. This guy was fortunate the parents of this 13 year old girl saw fit to give her an iPhone so she may answer the author’s phone call!

      So much for that mobile phone to a kid provides “safety” argument!

            1. You know something “botvinnik”, you’re by far and away the biggest twat I’ve ever come across on the internet.

              You’re arrogant, unnecessarily demanding of strangers and just downright rude. I pity you as you clearly have zero social skills.

        1. Nowhere in the article or in the author’s bio does it state the author’s gender. My bad for defaulting to male. But in my defense, “Jean” can be a man’s name too. (Captain Jean Luc Picard, for example.)

          1. While true, males are generally using “Gene”.
            That would be enough to clue me in to the gender in this case – even though in 2017, names sure aren’t what they were when I was a kid – Abe, George, Ben 😉

  3. It’s part of it. Technology has created teens who don’t know how to interact with others properly in person, especially adults. Woe is them when they attempt to apply for a job where a meeting is involved and eye contact is a must.:)

  4. this is just natural evolution to our consciousness being uploaded to the internet.. these meat blobs we walk around in are like dumb terminals.. slow and wasteful.

    digitize everything.

  5. They said similar things about the first telephones as well. There was a huge concern about, get this, men losing their wives to telephonic lothsarios who would seduce women with only their voices over the telephone.

    The telephone would break up marriages, ruin families, etc.

  6. Frankly, I can’t really put down the newest generation, as I have been addicted to the internet since my bulletin board days back in the early eighties.

    1. Because their peers have them, and they whine and complain that they feel left out/left behind if they don’t have them too. Parents want their kids to be properly socialized and to have what the other kids have, and they think giving their 11 year old a smartphone is a good thing. Also, they want to be able to reach their kid and keep track of their kid at all times.

  7. It seems like every generation has something new that “rots the brain” and people shake their heads about “the kids these days” including rock n roll, television, video games (my generation), MTV, internet and now iPads and iPhones. I don’t disagree completely with author after watching my neices grow up with iPhones. It is their communication of choice with their friends (even if they are all in the same room!). I just shake my head and say ” the kids these days…”but I do feel this is a different level of social immaturity and time will tell its effects on the generation. Of course, when AR and VR become widespread we will really have something to bitch about…

    1. Maybe they find that texting/messaging convenient since it leaves a text trail that they can use to review their conversations. I imagine if video conferencing was just as convenient and kept recordings, kids would use that instead.

  8. It is summer, and I feel great relief that my daughter (17) gets together almost on a daily basis with her friends (the few that aren’t away at the moment). They go to the park, to the Met Museum, to the movies… Regardless of the fact that literally all of her classmates have iPhones (except her; she has a cheapo qwerty slide-out dumbphone, for now), they still get together on a regular basis; during schoolyear, to study together, and during the summer, to have fun. Regardless of all the lures of Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

  9. Sadly, its the truth for the most part, but then again, you cannot say that about every young person. Times change, and in the best sense, you need to change with them and try to understand it and keep on top of it. Being a stubborn, old , whiny goat isn’t going to help.

  10. I think this lady is missing the forest for the trees in a way. It’s not the iPhone or smartphone that’s the problem nearly as much as it is social media. And the rise of social media is directly tied to the adoption of the iPhone.

    Spend even 5 minutes of your time on Facebook or Twitter and you can clearly see that it’s little more than a cesspool of negativity and hate. The more time that people spend on social media each day, the more unhappy and negative they’re going to be because they’re being constantly bombarded with it. Even TV and other media have latched on the non-stop negativity train because that’s what they think will get them ratings.

    1. “It’s not the iPhone or smartphone that’s the problem nearly as much as it is social media.”

      So you are blaming the bullet and not the gun? Well, without the gun the bullet goes NOWHERE.

      “Spend even 5 minutes of your time on Facebook or Twitter and you can clearly see that it’s little more than a cesspool of negativity and hate.”

      Agreed. We can expand that to include the media, Washinton politicians, television, movies, rap lyrics and so much more …

      1. It’s more like you’re blaming the gun (smartphone) instead of the person pulling the trigger (social media). If all kids did with their smartphones was listen to music, take pictures and make phone calls, this article wouldn’t have been written. Social Media and the cycle of constant peer pressure, negativity and hate that it fosters is the real problem.

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