Maria Shriver Thinks the Rise of Cell Phones Created New ‘Mental Health Challenges’

Maria Shriver sees the rise of cell phones as the cause of the decline in real, face-to-face human conversations — and she’s concerned that it’s causing “mental health challenges.”

The journalist and mom of four, 63, said that people are glued to their phones.

“I get in an elevator and people don’t even look up,” she told CNN. “There’s no denying that is all coinciding with these epidemics of anxiety and loneliness across generations. We’re technically connected, but we’re not connected.”

Shriver said that the lack of in-person conversations is causing problems.

“I think we have real mental health challenges due to our lack of connection,” she said. “[Talking] makes me feel understood, makes me feel I’m looking at someone and I’m finding common ground. I’m hearing them, I’m listening to how they got to where they are.”

The NBC correspondent wants people to put down their phones and have those conversations again.

“People can sit down and find common subjects, find common ground,” she said. “I’m a big believer that we’re in desperate need as a country to find things that we can talk about, then we can listen and form relationships. Everybody’s obsessed with their phone. Loneliness, anxiety, depression, trauma, all these things, I think, is coming from the lack of talking.”

RELATED VIDEO: Introducing PEOPLE’s New Mental Health Initiative: Let’s Talk About It

Shriver said that she tells her kids with ex-husband Arnold Schwarzenegger — Katherine, 29, Christina, 28, Patrick, 26 and Christopher, 22 — to look beyond their phones and social media.

“Let’s keep our eye on what’s real. Let’s have a life of faith. Let’s have a life with purpose. Let’s find something,” she said. Shriver said that her kids — and her new son-in-law Chris Pratt — have learned that they can’t have their phones at the table when they come over to eat.

“They know when they come for Sunday dinner, they don’t have the phone,” she said. “It’s down in the kitchen. And if I see it, I say ‘phone’ and they put it away.”

“There’s no substitute for the human connection.”


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