San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge has been studying generational differences for decades. Her latest research focuses on what she calls iGen: the age group that has not known life without the internet. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of iGen have grown up inseparable from their smartphones and according to Twenge are “on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.” Twenge joins Forum to discuss her new book: “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

Jean Twenge, professor of Psychology, San Diego State University; author, “iGen:Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood”

Psychologist Jean Twenge on How the Smartphone Has Shaped a Generation 13 September,2017Mina Kim


    Totally agree with the the guest. I just want to add that the iGen are far more self centered, extremely selfish, all started by Steve Jobs when he chose the word iPhone……That was a powerful but subtle words as in effect says, me, me, me,……to Hell with every one else, but that made them generation of sheep easier to rule by elites and ruling class.

  • Pontifikate

    It’s not just younger people. I can’t go to a movie, a class or a performance without even older people checking their phones, disturbing others with their noises or lit screens. And everyone is tentative about everything now. And rude.

  • Noelle

    I’ll make a connection with a previous Forum show, the one that interviewed the Dean of Cal Berkeley Law School. He mentioned his students want to be tolerant and inclusive, yet they want to limit free speech to “protect” people. No one had taught them the history of free speech in this country, until they got into Berkeley Law. I am glad the younger people are open and tolerant to different people, but then there is the part where they are less rebellious which is concerning. My Gen Y CS major nephew lived with us for 2 summers when he was interning at tech companies here and he seemed to have no concern about loss of privacy from using tech.

  • Noelle

    Sherry Turkle is an MIT academic who has done similar research for decades.

  • Noelle

    I remember how difficult socializing was when I was a teen so I can see the lure of texting instead. Let’s hope eventually the kids will find the advantages of really being there with people.

  • William – SF

    iGen have grown up inseparable from their smartphones and according to Twenge are “on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.”

    Medicare for All?

    • Noelle

      Mental health insurance coverage parity?

  • Pontifikate

    Re: the caller’s comment on the use of “See-Saw” in schools. Beware the tech money that goes to schools — usually with strings attached.

  • Chris Heidorn

    I can’t speak entirely to iGen, but as a millennial, it seems like you’re missing a chunk of the conversation when it comes to depression and anxiety.

    With any of my Social Circle, who are all college graduates, a lot of the existential crises come from the current economic Market. We don’t have money to go out and hang out with people. We live paycheck to paycheck, so even when we do have a little extra scratch, we don’t have the motivation or energy to go out and do things. And quite a number of us have two jobs.

    To attribute all of it to the cell phone seems like easy scapegoating. It’s certainly a factor as well, that I won’t deny, but I think there are much bigger issues than cell phone and internet usage at play with the increase in mental health disorders in my generation.

    • Noelle

      That’s a good point, the socio-economic situation is a huge factor.

  • vanessa

    I agree that it takes a larger community to help our kids navigate through iphone generation.
    I was wondering what you think about middle schools – many in SF – that are allowing free unrestricted use of their iphones and school provided ipads during lunch time. This is 45 minutes a day.
    Instead of socializing at lunchtime kids as young as 10/11 are watching videos during lunch time and allowed to play on their iphones during lunchtime.
    Parents who have decided not to allow their middle schoolers an iPhone now have schools giving their children iPads to play on.
    What is the responsibility of the school district?

  • Robert Thomas

    I’m old. I have an iPhone that I think is a useful tool, that I now mostly remember to take off the charger and carry with me when I’m away from home or desk. It has great utility for one’s work life.

    Else I rarely look at it and it rarely comes out of my pocket. I have friends and family I interact with by telephone and in person, but other than Disqus (this comment tool), I don’t use social media.

    If these things are so addictive, why do older people seem less prone to acquire addictions to them?

    • William – SF

      My guess, smart phones are the primary socialization tool. If swinging a 5 iron was considered by kids as the way to socialize, parents would be spending money on golf lessons and green fees.

      • Robert Thomas

        The puzzling thing is, that with conventionally addictive substances or behaviors, addiction seems to predate young and old alike. Perhaps more of my age cohort is ensnared than I notice.

        Three or four years ago, a younger coworker I like and with whom I enjoy conversation – and who will frequently initiate casual conversation with me – began to make a habit of spontaneously huffing his phone right in the middle of an interaction, sitting across a cafeteria table. I’m not too proud to have assumed it might just have been me; however, I observed that he did this with others as well. I feel sad about it. In his case, it frequently seemed that his family members (wife and children) were very frequently demanding interaction, throughout the day.

        • William – SF

          I’ve recognized the need of some to seek interaction perhaps socialization but not so much that they are truly engaged. At best I imagine them intolerant to being alone, at worst I imagine they believe their lives more worthy, more important, even while they often make others feel ignored, abandoned.

    • Noelle

      The older people remember how it was before and don’t see why most people think these devices are so indispensible. Then there are so many people sitting all the time which is supposed to cause higher mortality. Oh well.

      • Robert Thomas

        I suppose that’s part of it, at least.

  • Theresa

    Could it fill a child’s social media void without the negative effects of dependence on a phone to give a kid a laptop instead of an iPhone, or would that create new dependency issues?

  • Kelly Collins geiser

    hi, my daughter’s in 5th grade, and this year they take a course called Cyberwise. This is in a waldorf charter school. How much are schools looking into these issues of social media impacting their students?

  • hello


  • nitrab

    I think this technology conveniently fits into the current wave of overprotective, oversupervised, overinvolved parenting. I-Things (Ipads and Iphones) are excellent babysitters for parents. It is the EASY button we all crave, especially in this world of exhaust-yourself parenting (where there is no real social support or down time). Parents don’t have to worry about “danger” or “what ifs.” There are no tantrums and fights as long as the child stays plugged in and hunched over. Parents know where kids are at all times and the I-things provide the illusion of control—though in reality, the internet is a vast, wild west universe.


Mina Kim

Mina Kim is KQED News’ evening anchor and the Friday host of Forum. She reports on a wide range of issues affecting the Bay Area and interviews newsmakers, local leaders and innovators.

Mina started her career in public radio at KQED as an intern with Pacific Time. When the station began expanding its local news coverage in 2010, she became a general assignment reporter, then health reporter for The California Report. Mina’s award-winning stories have included on-the-scene reporting of the 2014 Napa earthquake and a series on gun violence in Oakland.

Her work has been recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association.

Mina grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Oak Park, CA. She lives in Napa.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor