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The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now.Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both.Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter.But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever.last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas.She answered her phone—she’s had an i Phone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. ,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month.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.

The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.

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 i Gen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.

They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other.

Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without i Pads or i Phones.

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