Apple investors say iPhones cause teen depression. Science doesn’t

January 27, 2018
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Many kids these days feel unworthy, unhappy and lack the sense of belonging. This serious mental health problem dwelling in the teens these days is commonly known as teen depression where adolescents think and behave differently. One needs to understand that depression is not any weakness. It can be overcome by willpower, but in most of the cases, it is a serious issue which needs proper medical attention and long-term treatment.

There are various reasons behind this problem such as peer pressure, academic pressure, their expectations from their selves, unwelcoming attitude from kids of same age group, etc. One current age reason behind teen depression is social media or screen indulgence for a generous amount of time.

According to a few investors, more the time children spend on screen is directly related to the increasing rate of teen depression leading to suicide risk in the US.

As we read further, we’ll understand whether smartphones have derived this link between its usage and rising depression or these are just a few cherry-picked facts out of a detailed survey, and we will know the warning signs of depression that can appear on our teenagers.

What Does Investor’s Claim?

The two Apple investors, JANA Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), who own approximately $2billion or 0.2% stake in Apple, have raised their voices regarding the excessive use of iPhones among teens. Their concern states that it has caused the distraction in teens along with lack of concentration and sleep deprivation which is the major reason for depression leading to suicide risk.

In a paper published by Clinical Psychological Science in 2017, the stats show that the period between 2010 -2015 has seen the maximum rise in the depression as well as suicide rates in America. The teen depression reached a surging figure of 33% while the attempt to suicide has shot up to 23%. But the most shocking stats are that of the suicide rate increased by a sky-high rate of 31% in mere five years.

In this research, there isn’t a single reason pointing to any economic factor or academic pressure because this period between 2010 and 2015 was a period where the unemployment was started to diminish. Although, the rising figures consider just one factor which was on the verge of taking the economy by storm by its wide presence, and that factor was smartphones. In 2012, smartphone ownership crossed 50% mark in the US and by 2015 73% adolescents were using smartphones.

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In a recent publication the State of the World’s Culture by UNICEF, they surveyed that on an average an American teenager acquires his/her first smartphone by the time he/she is not even in their teens, by the age of 10. The average time they spend on their phone is 5-6 hours excluding calling and texting, bound to their rooms encouraging the ‘bedroom culture.’ It’s not the time basically; it’s the content they keep on their storage devices and the content they watch online which leads to depression.

How Is Apple Responsible?

The first question arises; does it have an obligation towards making efforts to tame this situation? Being a smartphone device company, they know what are its pros and cons. This warning by the Apple investors, the sound alert by various researchers and media, has just underlined the already prevailing issue of the society. Apple has included a panel to research and improve, partnering with the experts to launch new tools and applications which can help parents keep a check and control the usage of various applications depending on their child’s activities online.

Parenting Done Right

It, somehow, is in parents’ hand how to set the digital etiquettes in front of their children. How they behave while using a smartphone and how much-undivided attention they give to their kids has vital importance to portray. Apple is taking the step in the right direction by implementing technology to help parents get control on their teens’ activities on phones, but it the duty of parents to keep a check and to make their babies understand how important it is to discuss things, not over phones, but face to face.

There are certain warning signs that parents must observe to understand the changing behavior of their child.

  • If the child is preferring being alone than with family or even friends; for that matter, parents need to speak to them.
  • Abrupt changes in their academic performance.
  • Extreme emotional display, like extremely emotional, or angry or even irritated.
  • Teen depression can also trigger the feelings of being guilty about something they didn’t do, or feeling of being ugly.
  • If they are sad or agile for most of their day.
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Parents must look into their patterns of behavior and must talk about it. They can limit the usage of smartphones or the time spent on screen if they think depression is developing because of usage of smartphones. They can further promote the culture of not using phones in the bedrooms. Smartphones should not become the substitute for what parents are expected to do for their children’s growth. Parents can lock the number of applications a phone provides, can restrict talking to limited phone numbers until a certain age. These restrictions can be amended or raised as the child turns older. When these tech giants are doing their work, parents have a bigger role to play. Not only parents, but there are also some good beings who participate in the upbringing of a child. Together they are responsible for why the child is behaving in a particular way.

Scientifically

All this data is nothing but a weak correlation. It is not only the smartphones which are responsible; it is everything available on internet which is accessible to kids which is responsible. According to a survey by Twenge, the teens that are on social media for more than 5 hours are most likely to feel depressed. 35% of an American teen spending 3 hours or more and 71% of teens spending 5 or more hours are likely to have a suicide risk. Depression is also detected because of not using the smartphones. Therefore, the solution is not elimination but limitation.

Conclusion

A parent would prefer giving a phone to the child rather than him being bullied over it. Another study tells that. Lately, people have become more open to talking about depression and suicidal thoughts. And this has got the stats increasing suddenly in the last few years. This may or may not directly link with smartphones. Because believe it or not, but technology is a seductive pacifier for all the challenges that parents face while growing up their kids forgetting before blaming that it has an off switch as well. But prevention is better than cure. Parents need to see their responsibility towards their child, and such influential companies like Apple must do their bit for the society.