We are aware of the consequences of too much screen time like physical strain to the eye and body, sleep deprivation, increased risk of obesity, and impaired social screening. However, the most important one is a weekend emotional judgment. In fact, according to research, excessive time on electronic devices is linked to a higher risk of depression and suicide among teenagers, especially girls, new research has found.
New research presents compelling evidence that the more time teenagers spend on smartphones and other electronic screens, the more likely they are to feel depressed and think about or attempt suicide.
Florida State College Robert O. Lawton Award for Excellence Screen time should be viewed as a contemporary risk factor for depression and suicide, according to Professor Thomas Joiner, co-author of a study that was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.
“There is a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicidal attempts,” said Joiner, who conducted the research with psychology Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. “All of those mental health issues are very serious. I think it’s something parents should ponder.”
Check children’s screen time
Joiner urged parents to monitor their kids’ screen usage because teenagers are using screens more often, and this activity has been connected to behaviour associated with despair and suicide.
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report a sharp rise in depression and suicide rates among youth aged 13 to 18 during 2010, particularly among females. According to the study, over usage of technological gadgets is probably to blame.
Teenage suicide rates soared by 31% between 2010 and 2015, according to the CDC, while the percentage of adolescents experiencing severe depressive symptoms increased by 33%, according to a national survey.
Rise in mental health problems related to an increase in ownership of cell phones
Teenage girls were primarily responsible for those increases. Their risk of suicide jumped by 65%, and the number of those experiencing severe depression rose by 58%. The frequency of behaviours linked to suicide — including feeling despondent, considering suicide, and trying to commit suicide — rose by 14%.
The study discovered that the growth in mental health issues among teenagers after 2010 and the rise in cell phone ownership are related. About half of Americans had cell phones in 2012. Teenagers and young adults had them in 92 percent of cases by 2015, and their screen time increased.
Researchers found that 48 percent of students who used electronic devices for five or more hours each day reported engaging in behaviour related to suicide. In contrast, only 28% of teenagers use electronic gadgets for less than an hour.
Teens who spend more time on their devices are more likely to be unhappy
According to Twenge, the findings unmistakably demonstrated that kids who used their smartphones more frequently were more likely to be dissatisfied. People who spent more time watching on-screen activities like sports and fitness, in-person conversations with friends, doing their homework, and attending church were more likely to be content..
“Teens who spend more time on screens are more likely to be depressed, and those who spend more time on non-screen activities are less likely to be depressed,” Twenge wrote in her book, “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”
Previous studies looked into whether heavier workloads, academic pressure, or financial hardships in families increased teens’ risk of mental health issues, but these links were not found in this study.
Limiting screen time to an hour or two a day would put a child into a statistically safe zone
Joiner and Twenge emphasised that while their research did not conclusively establish a link between screen time and depressive symptoms or behaviours associated with suicide, it does demonstrate one.
They added that parents shouldn’t feel compelled to deny their kids access to their smartphones and other technological devices. A child would, however, enter a statistically safe zone if screen use was restricted to an hour or two each day.
“It’s totally unrealistic and probably not even good to think kids will stop using screens,” Joiner said. “It comes down to moderation. Parents should try to make non-screen activities as attractive as possible because a lot of them are attractive. It is fun to hang out with your friends or play basketball. Just remind kids those things are available, and they’re just as fun as trading texts. That’s the bottom line.”
Materials provided by Florida State University. Original written by Dave Heller. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Jean M. Twenge, Thomas E. Joiner, Megan L. Rogers, Gabrielle N. Martin. Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time. Clinical Psychological Science, 2017; 216770261772337 DOI: 10.1177/2167702617723376
Florida State University. “Excessive screen time linked to suicide risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171130170212.htm>.
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