It’s not just the young, and there’s a reason why it might be easy for all of us to develop the habit.
The other night I was out to dinner with friends. While sitting at the table, one by one they began pulling out their phones and doing whatever it is people do when they stare at them. Let me just say that I don’t do that, partly because I think it’s rude, but mostly because I’m not technologically nimble enough to work on such a small screen. (It’s nice to not have one bad habit.) Because I don’t stare at my phone, I can get indignant when I’m with people who do, and so I told them I felt like I was out with a bunch of teenagers. This had absolutely no effect on what they were doing.
As a retired Research Psychologist with lots of time on my hands, I thought it would be fun to try to understand why people prefer to interact with their phones, even when they’re in situations which require them to interact with other people. A short answer is they may have become addicted. They’ve developed a behavior pattern that is extremely difficult to stop, much like smoking cigarettes, but without the physiological underpinnings.