What are smartphones doing to young people?

From CBC Radio's November 19th Sunday Edition: 

Lnk to the full 30 minute audio

The average age at which kids in the U.S. become smartphone owners is 10 years old. 

​In 2015, the Pew Research Center found that 75 percent of American teenagers either owned or had access to a smartphone. 

​Something that didn't even exist 11 years ago is now so essential to life in the modern world that few people — including kids — can imagine life without them.

But what has this technology done to young people's cranial hardware?

Tech addiction 

One addiction expert in the U.K. likened giving a child a smartphone to "giving them a gram of cocaine." 


Jean Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. (Sandy Huffaker/The New York Times)

Jean Twenge, professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, told Michael Enright that teens are more vulnerable than adults to tech addiction. 

Twenge is the author of more than 130 scientific publications and six books. Her latest book is called iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.

"Teens are not as far along in their brain development in terms of self-control," she says. "It is a developmental stage when they're just so concerned with fitting in and social status and popularity, so the phone becomes even more attractive under those circumstances."