Got a kid addicted to Fortnite or a teen who stays up at night on Instagram? It’s the new issue for parenting, a problem that did not exist for previous generations – What is technology doing to our Teens? Australian author, father of six, David Gillespie has written a fascinating book Teen Brain all about how screens are making teenagers depressed, anxious and prone to lifelong addictive illnesses and how to stop it. Gillespie isn’t some anti-tech hermit, he’s a co-founder of a successful software company and a technology investor, but his message is alarming. Tech and teens are a perfect storm where the biology of puberty makes the teen brain susceptible to addiction and at that vulnerable time parents, school and society gives them unfettered access to screens which is driving an epidemic of addiction, depression and anxiety, the likes of which we have never witnessed before. We’ve fallen into this situation in less than a decade and we need to face up to it fast. This is an easy-to-read guide which accesses the latest medical research which tells us that mental illnesses in teens began to significantly increase at the same time as the smart phone was invented. The world is now a high-addiction environment. Not only does Gillespie set out the problem, he’s got some suggested solutions as well with the comforting advice that it is never too late to start implementing change.
If you want to keep reading about more of the science of what is going on in the adolescent brain – what is driving the risk-taking and need for intense friendships as well as the appearance of mental illnesses for the first time in their lives, Inventing Ourselves by neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a great read. This book won the Royal Society Science Prize last year and recieved accolades from some of Britain’s most well known scientists.