By Aaron Ziebarth, Executive Director
“Imagine the best memories of your youth. Now imagine all of them replaced by a screen. Unless we can outsmart phones, this will be reality for a generation.” -Eric Metaxas
Last fall I listened to a Breakpoint Commentary (Teens Raised on a Smartphone Need An Escape Plan) by Eric Metaxas shortly after my wife shared Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation? from The Atlantic. I was reminded why a week spent at a Christian summer camp is so valuable for children.
When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone, children born after 1995, typically called “Gen Z,” were just entering their teen years. Jean Twenge, writing for The Atlantic Monthly, dubs these young people “iGen.”
“Unlike millennials, these kids cannot remember a time before the Internet. Like laboratory mice, they’ve been the unwitting subjects of a historic experiment. What effect has this had on them? Twenge paints a bleak picture, and it goes far deeper than the typical concerns about diminished attention spans.” writes Metaxas.
Teen suicide has skyrocketed since 2011.
One survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that teens who spent ten hours or more a week on social media were 56 percent more likely to experience symptoms of depression.
According to two national surveys, those glued to screens at least three hours a day were 28 percent more likely to suffer sleep deprivation.
The younger generation is spending less time outside than any other crop of kids—ever.
Twelfth graders in 2015 spent fewer hours out of the house than eighth graders did in 2009.
They’re more than twenty percent less likely to have jobs.
They aren’t interested in spending time with friends, at least not in person.
The number of teens who regularly get together socially has dropped by an astonishing forty percent since 2000.
Where are they spending all their time? Well, mostly at home, in their rooms, staring at screens. One teenager described the crater she’d left on her bed from spending all summer Snapchatting. Another admitted, “I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
“iGen,” Twenge concludes, “[is] on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.” And overuse of technology and social media is the most obvious culprit.
Here’s the good news: Research indicates that much of this is reversible.
Kids and teens who spend an above average amount of time with friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they’re unhappy.
Fewer hours spent staring at a screen correlates with better sleep.
“If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence…” writes Twenge, “it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen.”
Sending your children to summer camp (without their smartphone) may be the best decision you make for this summer.
Register for Summer Camp HERE
- Breakpoint Commentary Teens Raised on a Smartphone Need An Escape Plan by Eric Metaxas
- Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation? Jean Twenge, the Atlantic Monthly.
- The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch
- Four Conversations Parents Should Have With their Kids About Digital Devices An article by Focus on the Family
Joy El Camps and Retreats, is a Christian Summer Camps in PA, we offer Christian camps and retreats in PA and we are a retreat centers in PA since 1974. Our focus on making disciples is seen in Bible Adventure and the 4.12 Leadership Training Program.