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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Smart Phones Are Connected To Rising Teen Suicides

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  July 21, 2018 

Between 2010 and 2015, teen suicide or attempted suicide rose more than 50 percent. The rise is connected to an increase in teen ownership of smart phones, passing 50 percent in 2012 and soaring to 73 percent in 2015.

A recent study by Jean Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State, reports that teens are spending more time on social media and less time hanging out with friends.  They have less sex and much less interest in driving.  They get less sleep with many sleeping with their phones. Well, maybe this is why there are fewer teen pregnancies and fewer drinking.

If teens do mingle with friends, they relentlessly document their hangouts on social media where there are ongoing reminders about the exciting lives of other teens – some of which are Hollywood style fabricated lies.  Thinking that others are having a more exciting social life can cause feelings of depression and isolation. 

As teens begin to spend less time together, they are less likely to kill one another and more likely to kill themselves. The teen suicide rate in the US is now higher than the homicide rate.  

Students report being more depressed when they spend more time looking at screens. “All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness,” according to Twenge.   Depression is greater for 8th graders who frequent social media but lower for those involved in sports, attending religious services, doing homework, or reading print magazines and books. 

Children who use electronics excessively may fail to develop normal communication skills, including conversational and listening skills and making eye contact. 

The development of social skills may also be impaired, including the ability to make friends face-to-face, take responsibility for actions, follow verbal directions, display self control, use polite language, display good manners, and develop empathy for others. 

Normally chatty teenagers now sit silently, texting a friend even when both are in the same room – or at the same dinner table.  Their fingers can move at the speed of lightning on their iPads, yet many cannot hold an intelligent face-to-face conversation. 

Maybe they’re taking cues from their parents and other adults who can’t resist checking messages and texting even during worship services or over dinner with families or during conversations with kids. 

So at what age should you allow your child to have a smart phone? 

Although 10 is the average age of smart phone ownership, even children under two -- 38 percent -- have used electronic devices. Toddlers barely able to walk and tie their shoes can deftly swipe their way through an iPad.  Yet younger children who use electronic devices and access social media are more likely to be unhappy than older children --  especially 12th graders.  

Was this why Bill Gates wouldn't allow his own children to have cell phones until they were 14? 

Or why Steve Jobs wouldn't allow his own children to use Apple's new iPad, explaining that he limited the use of technology for his children? 

Why are addictive products being pushed on your kids if they're too dangerous for the precious progeny of Silicon Valley billionaires? 

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