You weren't bamboozled. The article isn't wrong. It isn't insightful, but it isn't wrong.
Sherry Turkle made a career out of this, her first book coming out when this was a "handheld device":
...and her shit got increasingly alarming up to the point where she proclaimed we were all doomed, picked herself up off the floor and decided that maybe all wasn't lost after all and we could do something about it.
Four years ago Microsoft paid danah boyd to look into the issue and her take wasn't that kids were diving face-first into smartphones because of their unavoidable siren song, kids were diving face-first into smartphones because their parents had them on such a tight leash that the only space they could find of their own was online and online communication beats the shit out of zero communication which is what their parents were going for because holyshit helicopterparenting is offthechain which, unsurprisingly, is exactly what Frontline has found, twice.
Which, incidentally, bears out everything we know about parenting. The issue is not that phones are so fucking amazeballs that the kids would rather stare at them, the issue is
- that kids have no money for gas or shopping
- that school is taking up ever more time and extracurriculars are suffering
- that parents are reefing down on childrens' freedom well past the point of reasonability
- and that if it weren't for their goddamn phones, kids would be stuck at home staring at the goddamn television all day, which is what adults bitched about every goddamn day until the Internet came out, and then adults bitched about the internet, until phones came out and now they can bitch about Snapchat and Instagram in particular rather than the Internet in general.
Fundamentally: kids will find their independence. If the only avenue for independence is snapchatting each other at 6pm on a Wednesday from behind their closed bedroom doors, they'll fuckin' do that. If they could go hang out at park together they totally would, but unless Janie's parents, Jodie's parents and Jill's parents are all cool with their kids hanging out at the park until dark unattended, that park hangout will never happen.
Depression is an appropriate response to the circumstances.