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How your smartphone is ruining your life

In 2015 Apple sold 61 million iPhones over three months - almost enough for the entire British population

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 08 August 2017 15:19 BST
(Getty Images)

People are having less sex and sleep since the dawn of the smartphone age, a new book by a professor of psychology claims.

More than 75 per cent of teens own an iPhone, according to a recent US study, and since the 2007 launch of the iPhone rates of loneliness amongst teens have soared alongside a worrying decrease in mental wellbeing.

According to figures collated by Jean M Twenge, the number of teenagers spending time with friends nearly everyday dropped by more than 40 per cent between 2000 and 2015, with rates of loneliness subsequently soaring.

Today's teens are dating less too, with 20 per cent less putting themselves out there in 2015 than in 2007.

That's not all, according to the data they're also having less sex, getting less sleep and even driving less than ever before. Are today's teens less independent than previous generations? Or are they simply Insta-comatosed?

"We are giving children devices that have the potential to become addictive at a time when their impulse control and judgement isn't fully developed," explains Tanya Goodin, founder of Time To Log Off. "We expecting them to self-regulate their use: even though we are witnessing mounting mental health issues," the author of OFF told The Independent.

There have been endless studies linking social media usage to the exacerbation of mental illness, the most recent of which claims that posting photos on social media could be a symptom of depression.

A recent poll illustrated the harmful effects that Instagram specifically has on young people's mental wellbeing, explaining that the photo-sharing app can deepen feelings of inadequacy and subsequently amplifies anxiety.

"The problem is that screen interactions do not fulfil our need to connect in the same way as in-person social interactions," Twenge told The Independent. "That's why in-person interactions are linked to better psychological well-being and screen interactions to worse psychological well-being. Screen interactions might be convenient, but they don't provide the same benefits as in-person social interaction," the author explained.

The stats for the grown-ups are no less staggering; two thirds of Brits own a smartphone and use it for nearly two hours everyday, no wonder Ofcom labelled the UK a "smartphone society".

"Teenagers - and adults too, for that matter - have become intolerant to boredom," explains Dr Rafael Euba. "Whilst technology is connecting people virtually, in reality, this can lead to a distancing from one another and can lead to feelings of isolation," the consultant psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre told The Independent.

However, it is an addiction that we are trying to overcome, with over a third of Britons trying a "digital detox" whereby all screentime is off limits.

Goodin regularly runs retreats in the UK and abroad, where phones are deposited at the door and days are spent taking long walks, indulging in plantbased meals and reconnecting with oneself without the constant dinging of WhatsApp.

It's a practise that's favoured by a slew of celebrities too, with Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Kanye West all throwing their hat in the digital detox ring.

Even social media Queen Kendall Jenner took time out from Instagram at the beginning of this year. If a Kardashian can do it...

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