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Self-endangered by phone

Bridget Hyland and Nathalie Tucker

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What might be the biggest danger to our generation is disguised as a blessing that fits into our pockets.

Generation Z is the first generation that has grown up with smartphones, accustomed to the ability to access everyone and everything at any given moment. While this incredible technological advancement has many perks, the negative effects that it can have on teenagers today are often overlooked.

Smartphones and social media are making us less social and more dependent. Jean M. Twenge, a San Diego State University psychologist, reported in The Atlantic that 12th graders in 2015 were going out less than 8th graders did in 2009. Teens are more comfortable sitting at home in their rooms Snapchatting people than actually being out with them in person. Overall, the time teens spend in person with their friends fell 40 percent between 2000 and 2015.

Sophomore Julia Gagliardi fears that in the future, people in our generation will have difficulty socializing with others. “We will be so dependent on texting them rather than having face-to-face conversations,” she said.

Senior Devon Tikku said this is already becoming an issue. “I see a lot of the younger kids walking home with their friends from school and their faces are buried into their phones instead of talking to each other,” he said.

Additionally, teens today date less than before; 56 percent of 12th-graders in 2015 had a significant other, while 85 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were in relationships at that age.

Senior Ally Gulla attributes this lack of interest in dating to the convenience of smartphones. “I feel like there’s no need to date now because there’s so many people you can talk to at once,” she said. “It’s so much easier to Snapchat someone or text them than take them out on a date.”

Our anti-social generation is also becoming increasingly unhappy. Depression and suicide rates have skyrocketed, and many blame smartphones. According to The Washington Post, symptoms of depression among teens increased by 33 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Social media is to blame for much of this. Junior Kelly Pikaart says that the constant comparison to others on Instagram and Snapchat often upsets her. “I feel like life would be easier and stress-free without phones,” she said.

For today’s teens, our phones seem worth the extra stress. Beyond the benefits of ditching our wallets for phone pockets and payment apps, we can stay in constant contact with everyone and can find information on Google within seconds. We have a limitless world of entertainment at our fingertips.

But Gulla fears that life with smartphones will harm Generation Z in the future. “We constantly have a distraction. We always have something in our hands,” she said. “We’re just not going to know how to communicate, and I’m really scared about that.”

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