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But around 2012, I started seeing large, abrupt shifts in teens’ behaviors and emotional states.
All of a sudden, the line graphs looked like steep mountains—rapid drop-offs erased the gains of decades in just a few years; after years of gradual inclines or hollows, sheer cliffs suddenly brought traits to all-time highs.
I’ve been researching generational differences for nearly twenty-five years, starting when I was a 22-year-old Ph D student in personality psychology at the University of Michigan.
“You have to have an i Phone,” said a 17-year-old interviewed in the social media exposé American Girls.The oldest members of i Gen were early adolescents when the i Phone was introduced in 2007 and high school students when the i Pad entered the scene in 2010.The i in the names of these devices stands for Internet, and the Internet was commercialized in 1995.Even if their smartphone is a Samsung and their tablet is a Kindle, these young people are all i Gen’ers.(And yes, even if they are lower income: teens from disadvantaged backgrounds now spend just as much time online as those with more resources—another effect of smartphones.) The average teen checks her phone more than eighty times a day.