Education About Asia: Online Archives

Teaching Students about Mindfulness and Modern Life

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“It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.”

—Jean M. Twenge1

Are your students often distracted, seemingly addicted to their phones? Have you noticed, as suggested in the quotation above, that anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental and emotional suffering have been rising steadily among the young people you teach, especially in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, which began during final editing of this article? While perhaps a slight exaggeration, we remain convinced that some of our students would more likely give up food, sleep, and even actual human contact than they would willingly agree to close that magical handheld portal to the cyberworld. It is in that world where they spend so many of their waking hours—often during class time—connecting, liking, friending, shopping, dating, and so on; and it is in that world, very different from the one most teachers grew up in, that they are forging their identities and building relationships. Indeed, one of the young students interviewed for Jean Twenge’s Atlantic article uses the “language of addiction,” saying, “I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”2