Summer Reading: iGen, Smartphones, Digital Culture and the Disrupted Self

As many of you know, my current obsession is researching how digital culture is changing humans most deeply—especially from within. Our sense of identity is not only a compass that motivates us, it also a cultural touchstone.

It won’t surprise you. My findings are disturbing. [tweetshareinline tweet=”Big picture: the rise of the Internet has profoundly changed the landscape where human identity develops.” username=”PatriciaMartin”] In essence, we are at the threshold of a large-scale identity crisis. [tweetshareinline tweet=”This remarkable shift will ripple into many aspects of life. And it’s changing teen life most.” username=”PatriciaMartin”]

Consider the recent article in the Atlantic. Professor Jean Twenge describes the iGen as a swath of teens raised with smartphones.

“The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.”

Compared with earlier generations, kids born between 1995 and 2012 are much less interested in leaving the house, dating, drinking or even learning to drive. These are all gateway experiences that help a person develop a sense of self.

How are they spending that time instead? On their smartphones. And all that screen time is having a profound effect on their behaviors and emotional states.

It’s an important article, that survived my beach bag, backpack and bath tub shelf.

I look forward to reading Professor Twenge’s new book, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us.