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I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. Born between 19, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet.
The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night.
We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned.
Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear.
More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been.
Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out.
There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.1970s, the photographer Bill Yates shot a series of portraits at the Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink in Tampa, Florida.
In one, a shirtless teen stands with a large bottle of peppermint schnapps stuck in the waistband of his jeans.
I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states.
The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear.
It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy.