Excessive Phone Use In Teens Not Linked To Mental Illness

A new study has found that the time teens invest on their phones and online does not necessarily have adverse effects on their mental health.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

The study tracking young adolescents on their smartphones to test whether more time spent using digital technoflogy linked to worse mental health outcomes was published in a journal called Clinical Psychological Science.

These findings coming at a time when guardians, parents, or society worry about tons of hours spent on phones having undesired effects on their mental health could provide some relief.

“It may be time for adults to stop arguing over whether smartphones and social media are good or bad for teens’ mental health and start figuring out ways to best support them in both their offline and online lives,” co-author Candice Odgers, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and Duke University, said in a statement.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 adolescents, then tracked a subsample of nearly 400 North Carolina public school students aged 10 to 15.

For two weeks, the team collected reports of mental health symptoms three times a day, as well as a daily log of technology use.

They analyzed whether participants who engaged more with digital technologies were more likely to experience later mental health symptoms, and whether days that adolescents spent more time using digital technology for a range of purposes were also days when mental health problems were more common.

The answer in both cases was no.

There is no denying the detrimental effects of social media on people—young and old.

As a whole, teenagers seem to be coping quite well with technology. After all, they’ve had smartphones for about as long as they could talk.

In fact, when associations between tech and mental health were observed, they were “small and in the opposite direction that would be expected,” according to a UC Irvine news release.

“For instance, teens who reported sending more text messages over the study period actually reported feeling better (less depressed) than teens who were less frequent texters,” it said.

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