The attention surrounding Apple’s recent introduction of the iPhone X can be profitably refracted through the light shed by Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State in her 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 and her worthwhile article adapted from the book in this month’s The Atlantic headlined “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” with the subheadline of “[m]ore comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.”
Just from the titles of these works, you can discern Prof. Twenge’s conclusions, which she bases on social science research consisting of surveys of behaviors and attitudes as well as interviews. Prof. Twenge’s conclusions are inevitably perhaps too sweeping generalizations, but anyone who is raising or educating or employing someone born after 1995 needs to consider the consequences of the loneliness, anxiety and depression which arise from growing up in a vortex of communications not supported by correspondingly strong connections.
One counter-cultural point of emphasis here at Long Trail School is mindfulness, the aptitude to pay attention to whom you are with – and who you are. Mindfulness is a bedrock of the emotional intelligence we cultivate in our students. Mindfulness sits at the core of being an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School; when the IB Learner Profile extols caring, collaborating and communicating, that’s mindfulness. We look, for example, at our cellphone policy – which essentially keeps these devices out of the classroom and any other space on campus where human beings could be talking with one another – as mindfulness training.
Here at LTS, nestled in the Green Mountains, we disconnect precisely in order to connect with everyone, of all ages, in our school community. That in turn leads to the gift of living in wonder of how much as a group, coming together with our distinct personalities and diverse perspectives, we can contribute to healing our world.
/s/ Seth Linfield
Interim Head of School