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What are smartphones doing to the health of young people, and how should we respond? Lecture delivered by Dr Jean Twenge

Wednesday 31 May 2023, 11.00–12.30

About 1 mins to read

At this lecture Dr Jean Twenge discussed her research into the trends emerging among younger people around mental health and use of digital technology. We explored what this looks like in a UK context and the possible solutions.

We were joined by young people in the audience who helped to lead the discussion. The audience also had the opportunity to ask questions.

The lecture explored the themes from Dr Jean Twenge's 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'.

iGen – those born after 1995 – spend more of their leisure time on digital media and less time seeing their friends face-to-face. This pattern of time use is associated with compromised mental and physical health. This might explain why rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide suddenly increased after smartphones became common around 2012.

iGen is also growing up more slowly, taking longer to engage in adult activities such as working, driving, dating, having sex, and drinking alcohol. They are also very interested in safety. Overall, they are physically safer but more mentally vulnerable.

Please note: there is no recording of this event available but you may be interested in our podcast episode with Dr Jean Twenge.


Jean M. Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than 180 scientific publications and books.

Dr. Twenge frequently gives talks and seminars on generational differences and technology based on a dataset of 39 million people. Her audiences have included college faculty and staff, parent groups, youth advocates, high school teachers, military personnel, camp directors, and corporate executives. Her research has been covered in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and The Washington Post, and she has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, NBC Nightly News, Dateline NBC, and National Public Radio.

She holds a BA and MA from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She lives in San Diego with her husband and three daughters.

Headshot of Jean Twenge


Jo Bibby is Director of Health at the Health Foundation.

Jo is responsible for leading the Foundation’s Healthy Lives strategy to create the opportunities for everyone to lead a healthy life.

Joining the Foundation in November 2007, Jo initially led the Foundation’s influential portfolio of work in patient safety and person-centred care.  

Jo has worked in health care at local and national level for 25 years, including 10 years at the Department of Health. As Head of NHS Performance, she oversaw the implementation of the policy agenda set out in the NHS Plan. At the NHS Modernisation Agency, Jo led an international quality improvement initiative – Pursuing Perfection.

Before joining the Foundation, Jo was the Director for the Calderdale and Kirklees Integrated Service Strategy where she led a major service reconfiguration programme to deliver improvements in quality, safety and patient experience.

She is a trustee at the Centre for Homelessness Impact and from June 2021 a non-executive director at Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust.

Jo has a PhD in Medical Biophysics.

Jo Bibby headshot

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