It’s no secret that college students enjoy maximizing the use of technology, especially for communicating via apps like Facebook and Snapchat, or simply texting.
Yet, a reliance on one’s tablet, smartphone or laptop for social interaction could be impacting mental health of people born after 1995.
According to a study released Nov. 2017, those born after 1995 are at higher risk for depression symptoms. The study stated between 2010 and 2015, 33 percent more adolescents had higher levels of depression-related symptoms and 12 percent more reported “at least one suicide-related outcome.”
According to the study, one of the leading factors of this elevated rate of depression is the increased use of smartphones and technology that requires Wi-Fi access.
The study also points out that members of the millennial generation who participate in social activities, such as student organizations, were less likely to experience depression or attempt suicide.
The issue of depression within the millennial, or iGen, age group, is a major part of Jean M. Twenge’s new book “iGens.” Twenge, who is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, defines “iGen” as anyone born between 1995 and 2012.
NPR contributing writer Annalisa Quinn summed up the thesis of Twenge’s book as “smartphones and other screens promote antisocial behavior, prolong childhood and increase loneliness, depression and political disengagement.”
Twenge said in a column on Quartz At Work that iGens are “very concerned with safety… less likely to say they want to take risks. iGen is also concerned about what they call “emotional safety” — they want to be protected from offensive comments and emotional upset just as they want to be protected from physical harm.”
In her Quartz column, Twenge points out how iGens typically wonder what steps employers take to create a safe work environment.
Beyond changing the climate of wanting a safe work environment, iGens are also changing the nature of social interactions in the workplace. Working iGens prefer to use social media over face-to-face interactions in order to bond with co-workers and peers.
IGens do not prioritize making friends at their jobs; they’re more focused on connecting with people via social media, according to the Quartz column.
With a variety of apps, like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, it’s easier and quicker to communicate with friends. Status and photo sharing platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow people to stay up-to-date with friends with out any verbal communication.
The difference between iGens and millennials ultimately stems from their reliance on technology. Although millennials were introduced to smartphones and social media at an early age, iGens don’t seem to remember a time before they had constant access to Wi-Fi accessible technology or smartphones, which is affecting their mental health.
In a world of high speed internet, iGens stay connected without being in the same room as each other. It’s a good time to bring back some old school interaction, like chilling with your friends and forgetting your phone at home.