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How The Mobile Apps Affect Young People’s Psychological Development

How The Mobile Apps Affect Young People’s Psychological Development

Mobile apps are software programs on mobile devices, enabling users to perform specific tasks. Learn the difference between app-dependent and app-enabled.

PHOTO: Pixabay

Today’s young people are digital natives. They’ve spent their whole lives in a world of digital media and can barely imagine life without their smartphones, mobile apps, or the internet. Has growing up in a digital world affected their thought processes, personalities, imaginations, and behaviors? How do they differ from digital immigrants who adopted digital media later in life? Digital media have had a considerable impact on three crucial areas of psychological development–

  • Establishing personal identity.
  • Cultivating the capacity to form intimate relationships with other people.
  • Developing generativity– the creative impulse.

Mobile apps are software programs on mobile devices that enable users to perform specific tasks. You can use an app for news, or for mapping your way, writing a song or drawing a picture. Today’s young people view life in terms of apps. If they face a problem, they figure there must be an app that can solve it.


Dependency On Mobile Apps

Mobile apps can enhance your psychological development if they solve small problems. They can free you to explore new paths, form deeper relationships, ponder the biggest mysteries of life and forge a unique and meaningful identity. Enabled users don’t let technology shape them. Technology sparks their exploration. App-enabling motivates you to look for new options rather than restricting yourself to an app’s abilities. For instance, an enabled user turns to communication technology not to replace personal interaction– with its attendant discomforts and risks– but to facilitate more face-to-face encounters.

An app-dependent mindset undermines social and psychological development. App-dependency limits your choices and goals to those you can access via an app, and through no other avenue. The mobile apps mandate your course of action, hence inculcating dependence. An art app, for instance, could discourage the development of new skills. It may limit you to mimicry or tiny trivial tweaks and tweets.

Digital technology’s impact turns destructive when young people transfer app consciousness to life, adopting the idea that there are defined ways to achieve their goals. Many young people come to believe that they can lead a life that is mapped out like a super-app and that achieving what they want simply means performing a series of prescribed steps as if following a software program. Young people who don’t have such a super-app or an overarching goal feel as if they are falling short.


Mobile Apps & Identity

While today’s young people seldom make a distinction between their online and offline selves, they still take care to present a socially desirable, polished self online. Adolescents now are other-directed. Instead of relying on their personal inner values for guidance, they draw cues from what others admire. They appear to regard themselves increasingly as objects that have quantifiable value to others.

Digital media facilitate crafting a packaged, appealing identity, and the online world provides an audience to appreciate it. Looking outside themselves for reassurance and validation undermines young people’s capacity to develop a distinct, authentic and self-assured identity. They may well experience a sense of a loss of social and emotional control, handing their autonomy over to extant social forces instead of locating the engines of social control within their own psyches.

Today’s youth are more tolerant of differences in others, and more accepting of diverse identities and interests. As a result, youth have more freedom to adopt and rejoice in identities that were either unknown or scorned in decades past. Young people are more accepting of the geeky kids, of gay peers and of members of other races.

Finding validation of your identity in thousands of thriving online communities is relatively easy. No matter what your interest is– gaming, crafts or pop culture– a community exists to serve it and to offer you inclusion. Here you can reveal your true passions, no matter how little-known or off the beaten path, and find acceptance. This positive example of the app-enabling mindset fuels many observers’ optimism concerning how the Internet can nourish wider connection and personal inspiration.

Digital Media & The Arts

A review of teen artwork since the mid-1990s suggests some of the effects digital media have had on creativity. Young people’s visual art has grown more complex and sophisticated, perhaps because teens can access a vast range of visual images from the Internet. In literature, however, teens have moved toward producing more conventional works– Recent stories tend to follow a more linear structure as authors shifted away from fantastic or eccentric plots to focus on mundane events. The pedestrian language of the tweets, texts and instant messages that form a substantial portion of youth’s daily reading is a strong influence.

Digital media may undermine creativity by interrupting or displacing the unstructured mental escapism that fuels creativity. Innovative and imaginative thinking requires quiet time when you can contemplate the world around you or float off in daydreams. Digital media provide constant distractions– instead of musing on life, youth today are more likely to use walking the dog, say, as a further chance to multitask.

Apps & Intimacy

Mobile apps make connecting with others easier than it once was. With smartphones, texting, instant messaging and apps for social media sites, people are rarely out of touch or unreachable. This technology does offer some real benefits. Far-flung family members stay connected, people of all ages can share their hobbies, and some young people find that it helps them reveal their emotions to others. They sometimes use communication apps to avoid the risks, discomfort, and vulnerability of in-person interactions. Creating a series of electronically distanced relationships removes the conditions necessary for deep intimacy, while still permitting some communication.

The app mentality sees people as instantly and constantly available because mobile technology is everywhere. Young people fully exploit this constancy of connection. Every day, some 63% of teens send between 60 and 100 texts, a significant portion of which make arrangements for getting together with friends in person. Another considerable portion represents virtual taps on the shoulder, checking in for no practical purpose beyond maintaining contact.

Selective Mobile Apps


There’s a number of must-have phone apps that you can download. Young people must reach their full potential rather than simply perform superficial aspects of identity, intimacy, and imagination. This requires making wise use of apps while avoiding being programmed by them. Youth need to become app-enabled rather than app-dependent. App-enabled youth will use apps selectively– to augment rather than control their personal quests for identity, intimacy, and imagination. The birth of mobile apps need not destroy the human capacity to generate new issues and new solutions and to approach them with the aid of technology when helpful, and otherwise to rely on one’s wit.

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