As modern technology develops, the use of smartphones increases, especially for the younger generation. The increase in smartphones has caused numerous side effects, including health risks like sleep deprivation, depression, and suicide. Smartphones have also created a big shift with the teenage generation’s behavior. In the article “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” the writer, Jean Twenge emphasizes smartphones significant dominance over teenagers through the usage of the classical rhetorical appeals, pathos, ethos, and logos.
The writer uses various techniques of pathos, the appeal to emotion, to connect with the audience.
Twenge appeals to fear in order to reveal the seriousness of using smartphones; ”Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan”(15). Twenge also addresses the isolation smartphones cause; “They just say ‘Okay, okay, whatever’ while they’re on their phones. They don’t pay attention to their family” (9). The fact that smartphones break up a family triggers the audience immediately, it causes a sorrowful effect.
Smartphones only make it worse for lonely teens; “constant reminder how lonely a teen is when using social media, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out’’ (18). The use of “exacerbate” creates an overwhelming reaction to the audience; it exposes how smartphones transformed a lonely teen’s situation from bad to worse. Pathos allows Twenge to emotionally connect with readers.
The second classical appeal Twenge uses in this article is the ethos, appeal to credibility.
In order for the writer to build her credibility, she bluntly states; “I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology” (3); by stating her profession and major, this makes it easier for the audience to trust her. The writer also backs up her argument by quoting Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple and a well-trusted figure; “Even Steve Jobs limited his kids’ use of the devices he brought into the world”(20). Lastly, Jean uses another outside, expert source to indicate that she is knowledgeable; “Teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not. The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse” (12). The usage of ethos builds Jeans credibility and makes it easier for the audience to be persuaded.
Lastly, logos, appeal to logic, is used in her argument about smartphones. She mainly uses common sense; “Teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time” (4). Clearly, the things this current generation does differ from the past generation especially since technology has developed. Logical statements were also used “where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone” (17).In other words, Twenge is concluding teens and smartphones are inseparable. Twenge also used another common sense statement; ”About four times as many Americans now take antidepressants, which are often effective in treating severe depression, the type most strongly linked to suicide ”(19). It is well known that the main purpose of antidepressants is to treat depression, note the “anti”, it is also common that severe depression connects with suicide, since it’s the main side effect. By using logos, she was able to persuade her audience about the harmful mental health risks, teens face when using smartphones. The use of logos persuades Twenge’s audience through reasoning and common sense.
In conclusion, pathos, ethos, and logos is able to reveal Twenge’s argument about teenagers and smartphones.