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    • A PEW report that came out yesterday seems to indicate that, unlike people over 30, who debated deleting Facebook but didn't seem to, teens 13-17 let Facebook slip to #4, behind YouTube, Snap, and Instagram.

      YouTube is used by 85% of young teens. How do you feel about that?

      📷: From the film Screenagers

    • My first reaction is, that's like asking how I feel about the automobile or the television, I guess. By that I mean, phones and the internet are here to stay and we have to deal with them. In that environment, approval slips down the list of things that matter. Serenity prayer and all that.

      I was talking to a site developer the other day and he cited the YouTube stat, which he took as a sign that the yoof don't read anymore, but prefer to watch vids. That may or may not be true, I'm not sure (moans about young people not reading or writing has been a refrain sounded by anyone who's not a kid, for longer than the internet's been around.) I write for a soccer website and it's largely populated by young men in their late teens or twenties, who have no problem writing down how they feel, frequently in acerbic language! So I have my doubts.

      Has anyone ever successfully predicted how a new techonology (or a changed physical environment, ie climate change) will affect a society? With so many variables at work, I would have thought it would be very difficult indeed.

    • Human beings evolved in tribes. Like any social animal, we seek secure emotional attachments to caretakers since birth. This attachment is fundamental, it gives us the 'operating system' to both the internal and external worlds. It regulates our physiology down to the neurochemical level. It underlies everything.

      As we grow we explore and learn more and more, and we hit those pedriatic milestones parents know about. When we hit puberty our instincts compel us to seek the larger tribe. We risk more and explore more. The evolutionary pressure is to depart from the nucleus and safety of our immediate family, and strike out into our own genetic branch. The larger tribe is a group of friends our own age, of peers. Here, a deep emotional bond carries us into this broader world.

      Now take that and put it in the information age. Now we have 24/7 connectivity to the internet. We have instagram and texting. What if kids are not forming deep meaningful bonds with peers? Trust and loyalty requires proof in terms of time and commitment, it requires consistency. I used to walk a mile just to knock on my buddy's door to see if his mom would allow us to play outside. Today kids text each so they can watch a movie and post a selfie on instagram while ubering back home. I fear there is no grounds for building relationships when anxiety from a lack of social connections, which is natural, is being regulated by the 'ping' sound of a text message received.

    • Look how fast radio was adopted, similar-looking curve to internet, smart phone. I know for a fact that people back then were fretting that the radio would ruin family life and kill conversation, since everyone supposedly huddled around their large radio in the living room and listened, instead of socializing.

      I think the same arguments/concerns get recycled without our being aware of it. Yet here we are, functioning reasonably well (give or take a school shooting or an election), with you launching a site that depends on communication and the written word.

      I've read that when books became more affordable, available and popular, there were fears that they, too, would lead to impaired socialization. How can you relate to other people with your nose buried in a book? Nowadays we complain that people don't read enough books.

      To quote Linda Ellerbee, "and so it goes."

    • My father restricted my book reading as a teen because he said it isn't good for boys to turn into bookworms, and it strains the eyes. Go out and play baseball with the other boys.

    • If I were to vote I’d say bad. But it is the way it is and it’s not going to change.

      Strong parental filters would help but would be a ton of work to upkeep.

      When we live in a world where you can google the most horrific things it’s just dissapointing for a Christian like myself.

      The times they are a changin.

    • I'm not a 13-17y/o, but I am a teenager with a smartphone, so I feel like I have a different perspective on this than some of the other people in this thread.

      Personally, I think that not being absolutely glued to one's smartphone is definitely a good thing. I recently installed an app that tells me both how many minutes/day I use my phone and how many times I turn the screen on. It's been pretty eye-opening, and I'm now actively working on using my phone less. I also love to read, so I spend a fair amount of time doing that that I might otherwise spend on my phone.

      I think one major difference between smartphones and some earlier life-changing innovations is that it's pretty easy to use your smartphone damn near constantly. I feel like with some of the other things that were on Chris's graph, such as radios, refrigerators, color TV, and even computers, you had to be in a specific place in order for the technology to be useful/usable. It's easy (and very common) to bring a smartphone with you wherever you go, and whenever you don't explicitly have something to do, you can just whip it out and get instant entertainment. I think that resisting the urge to use it anytime you're uncomfortable/bored/etc is a good thing to do -- otherwise, it seems likely that you'll end up completely dependent on it.

      Honestly, I think that for kids, things may have been better before computers and smartphones. I find that so many people around my age just spend a ton of time not really doing anything, because they can be entertained by their phones/laptops all the time, and it kind of bums me out. I'm not saying I'm not guilty of doing that myself, but I put conscious effort into making sure I'm mostly doing things that are valuable to me for reasons other than being entertained right now.

    • As a parent, and therefore an ancient person, I think it's always great when a teenager enters a conversation about teenagers. It's always eye-opening. Amongst other things you point out the elephant in the room, or in the graph in this case, which I had missed entirely - people didn't have radios, refrigerators or shipping containers in their pockets at all times. Also the fridges, radios and microwaves etc. weren't specifically designed to keep peoples eyes glued to them? So cellphones and 'social media' are a unique problem, if they are a problem, which I'm not convinced about as it seems obvious to me that teenagers are more than capable of seeing a problem and either moving away from it or solving it, as you have just demonstrated. :)

    • I really try hard not to be one of those middle-aged people who comes across as generalizing about change being bad. Change is inevitable. Change is never all good nor all bad. It's just different, and people who have done something one way for a long time sometimes struggle to adjust. Throughout history, every time something new is introduced, someone has to get on the bandwagon that it's automatically concerning and "bad". For young people, I think engaging with others face-to-face has a lot to do with parenting. If someone is taught to be aware of others, to have empathy, to listen, and to engage, then I think they will. YouTube and Snapchat are just platforms for communication. And I have a lot of faith that young people will do just fine in the long run.

    • Great to see you here, Anne! I wonder, in the age of the internet, social media, and troll farms, if it's older generations who are having trouble with empathy and understanding.

      Older generations mastered all the cues that come from face-to-face conversation: the nods, the body language, the smiles, eye contact, glancing at your watch. But they seem to have trouble interpreting what's said on Twitter, Slack or email. The subtle meaning of emojis. Someone types oic and they have no idea.

      And so it feels to them that a phone call or in-person meet is so much better than a text. But to a teen, there is so much pleasure in texting in the moment when you're on the bus or during the game, and they know how to pick up on all the digital nuances the way olders learned how to pick up the physical nuances. No?

    • That's an interesting way of looking at it. I think it comes down to having an interest in learning new ways of communication. As an example, I recently heard the term, "bougie". I was pretty sure it meant bourgeoisie, but double-checked with one of the young people at work. Yup. Also, Urban Dictionary is your friend.

    • I'm hesitant to call any new technology bad or good but smart phones use among young people is definitely a concern for me. As a teacher I see some kids who are seriously addicted to their phones. I also sometimes walk down the hallways and see almost no one talking and everyone on their phones. It's definitely changing the way people interact and do things. Time will tell what the long term effects of this is.

    • Heh heh, you misunderstood me. It was a genuine inquiry since I don't know what oic means and I was looking for a shortcut way of avoiding a nasty word.

    • Seems like you're doing a pretty good job of making up for the restricted reading thing. :-)

    • I have a particular perspective on this. In the same way that "guns don't kill people; it is people who kill people", the development of social media (and other) apps does not, in itself, create a generation of knuckle-draggers.

      It is how we use these new tools that counts. And in that, we all have choices.

      In most SM or productivity apps you can see, or feel, the early utopian vision that developers had for their product. Sense how the world would change for the better if you used the new tool in this way, for that purpose.

      Actually, in a great many cases I really do think that SM or productivity apps could dramatically change how we all live and communicate. And if there is significance to our communication, we all quickly get smarter, more interesting and capable, right? Cue stirring and evocative music.

      Unfortunately, and to momentarily reconnect with my original premise, users of these tools all too often make a free choice to use them in facile and baseless ways. I think here of Instagram posts that feature a plate of baked beans on toast, or whatever else they were having for dinner. And don't even get me started on selfies.

      But its not just in the day to day trivialities that we fail to rise to challenge. How long have we had business apps - from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note - that allow for real time simultaneous document collaboration? A fair while. But so very few people I encounter feel comfortable working collaboratively in this way. They prefer to make a document edit, and email to the next guy so he can make his edit, and so forth. We have to tools to work so much more efficiently, and accurately but make an active choice to largely ignore their most helpful features.

      I think Utopia beckons, but we are looking the other way.

      Excuse me while I print this out and fax it to myself.