The Unhappiest Generation?
Apple recently announced the arrival of the IPhone X with face recognition technology. The rollout of this new device triggered an insightful interview earlier this week by Tucker Carlson of Fox News. Dr. Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University Professor of Psychology, claims that this technology is largely to blame for a significant decrease in overall happiness among today’s youth and the increasing suicide rate. The current generation of youth spends six to eight hours a day using their cell phones, which she says, has a highly destructive effect. Rather than helping young people feel more socially connected, she explained that smart phones are actually causing many to feel more frustrated, depressed, isolated and lonely. Time spent on mobile devices has now replaced normal activities like “hanging out with friends” and reading.
In Dr. Twenge’s experience, today’s incoming freshmen, compared with youth entering college six or more years ago, demonstrate an inability to concentrate. According to her they have much shorter attention spans—so short, in fact, that many are essentially unable to read an entire book.
Furthermore, it seems likely that the overdependence on smart phones including the obsession by some with taking “selfies” is making many young people more self-centered. Might this be part of the reason that the Bible prophesies that people everywhere will increasingly be “lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:2)?
On the other hand, we can thank God for these advancements in technology. I often marvel at the convenience of having a small device in my pocket with which I can reach people around the world in a matter of minutes! And I thank God for being able to include QR codes in my Life Essentials Study Bible which enable people to view the 1500 videos accompanying each principle. This is amazing technology we can use to carry out the Great Commission worldwide.
How, then, can we reap the benefits of this technology without experiencing its downside? I believe the solution is divine wisdom that comes directly to us in the Scriptures. In the words of James:
Who is wise and has understanding among you?…But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. (Jas. 3:13, 17-18)
Further, God makes it simple for us to participate in His wisdom:
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him (Jas. 1:5).
As we study the Word of God and listen to our godly pastors and teachers, lets also pray the words of the Psalmist who prayed centuries ago: “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from your instruction” (Ps. 119:18). (See Principle 109 in my Life Essentials Study Bible, p. 798, entitled Illumination and Discernment)