Are smartphones really destroying the mental health of a generation? (Glynn Harrison, Apr. 21st, 2024, Spectator)

[T]he idea of the one-factor solution has never been particularly attractive to me. After all, over the first half of the last century, the lure of a surgical solution to mental health ailments scarred the lives of tens of thousands of patients who were subject to brain lobotomies. The same problem – good intentions but bad science – drove the over-use of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and, more recently, rocketing prescriptions for the latest pharmaceutical remedies. The scandalous use of puberty blockers may yet turn out to have been the latest intervention fuelled by our need for the big fix.

Add in the replication-crisis engulfing the behavioural sciences right now (many study findings reported with great fanfare don’t hold up when other researchers try to repeat the experiments), and the latest health scare to wash up on our shores – an apparent link between social media and an epidemic of teenage mental illness – is not promising.