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We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation - the custodians of the country in which we meet - and acknowledge their Elders, past and present.

The Machines Killing Our Kids

Jean Twenge [USA]
Chaired by Verity Firth
Sat 24 August 10:15am
Sat 24 August 10:15am
Teenage depression and suicide are way up — and so is smartphone use.

Between 2011 and 2019, depression rates doubled for US teens, and feelings of loneliness and psychological distress soared among Australian young people, particularly teen girls and young women. Even more troubling, suicide rates among young women have surged across the Anglosphere. These terrible outcomes are now shared by teens across English-speaking countries, irrespective of personal identity or background – with those born after 1995 being much more likely to experience mental-health issues than their millennial predecessors. 

According to psychologist Jean Twenge, of all the possible causes of this tragic development, one stands out: the rise of the smartphone and associated social media apps. For some, these have become ‘killing machines’. So, why are they not controlled to the same degree as other deadly risks? 

As FODI’s first session in 2024, Jean will begin her Keynote at 10:30am, following a Welcome to Country.
Jean Twenge appears exclusively in Sydney.
This session is co-presented by UNSW Sydney and FODI.

Co-Presented By

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.
Jean Twenge

Jean Twenge [USA]

Jean M. Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, is the author of more than 180 scientific publications and seven books, including Generations: The Real Differences between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and Silents—and What They Mean for America’s Future and iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Michigan. She writes the Generation Tech substack.


Verity Firth

Verity Firth is the inaugural Vice-President Societal Impact, Equity and Engagement at the University of New South Wales. She has over twenty years’ experience at the very highest levels of government and education sectors in Australia. Prior to her role at UNSW, Verity was the Pro Vice-Chancellor Social Justice and Inclusion at UTS (2015-2022), the CEO of the Public Education Foundation (2011-2014) and the NSW Minister for Education and Training (2008-2011). Verity is a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Implementation Advisory Committee for the Universities Accord.

Photo: Andy Roberts

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24 August
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