Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is a global leader in generation research.
She talks about the big spike in anxiety, depression, suicide and other mental health challenges she and other researchers noticed a decade ago, something she ties to the widespread adoption of smartphones. We explore what that means for Gen Z (or iGen) and for leaders and employers.
Welcome to Episode 435 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.
Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks more about social media and identity.
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Insights From Jean
1. The generational differences between Millennials and iGen (Gen Z) are the largest on record
Often, Millennials and iGen (Gen Z) are combined in conversation as similar generations with similar habits. As a generational researcher for 25 years, Jean finds this to not be so true.
Generational differences, like optimism, mental health trends and work ethic between Millennials and iGen are the largest on record. She thinks the largest contributing factors to this are social media adoption and everyone owning a smartphone. Carey agrees with her.
Of the generational differences we’re seeing between Millennials and iGen, a sharp decline in mental health is among the most alarming. From 2012 to 2019, rates of clinical depression in teens doubled from 8% to 16%. Shifts like this are unprecedented.
2. Current culture mixed with smartphone addiction makes a tough cocktail for the next generation
As iGen spends more time alone on their smartphones, they are spending less time with each other in person (this was happening long before COVID).
This trend, combined with iGen getting less sleep because they’re staying up on their phones, is a perfect cocktail for mental health challenges like anxiety, depression and even suicide.
3. How to live with smartphones in a more healthy way
Jean recommends a few steps to take to be able to live with healthier boundaries between us and our devices:
- Start with removing all phones from the bedroom at night while you sleep. If you use your phone as your alarm clock, you should buy a separate alarm clock.
- Stay off your phone for an hour before you go to bed, while at the dinner table and any other time you need or want to be “smartphone-free.”
- And finally, work to shrink your usage of your smartphone altogether. Many apps are designed to be addictive. Study your habits to know which ones suck your time and mind, and start there.
Quotes from Episode 435
Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?
Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.
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Next Episode: Louie Giglio
Louie Giglio returns to the podcast and weighs in on church online, what the next generation is looking for, what he sees elite leaders doing that separates them from others, and how to battle the enemy in your head.
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