More digital screen time increases depression among teens

Modesto Morganelli
Novembre 14, 2017

Depressive symptoms were more common in teens who spent a lot of time on their devices, as well.

Scientists found the link between depression and time spent in front of TVs, tablets and phones was especially strong among teenage girls.

According to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate for females between the ages of 13 and 18 increased 65 percent from 2010 to 2015.

Twenge also said that teens who spent time on "new media", such as social media and smartphones, had more mental health concerns than those who hung out with friends, worked on homework, stayed physically active, or went to religious services.

The number of teen girls reporting symptoms of severe depression increased by 58 per cent.

"Teens are telling us they are struggling, and we need to take that very seriously".

"Since 2012, that's what has occurred en masse: Teens have spent less time on activities known to benefit mental health (in-person social interaction) and more time on activities that may harm it (time online)", she wrote.

"When I first saw these sudden increases in mental health issues, I wasn't sure what was causing them".

The results were based on questionnaires filled out 500,000 USA teenagers in two anonymous, nationally representative surveys conducted since 1991. The surveys polled teens about their health and behavior. "That was by far not a good formula for mental health", the researchers noted.

Psychologists in California found 48 per cent on devices five or more hours a day reported at least one suicide-related outcome, compared with 28 per cent on them less than an hour a day.

The study was reported in the journal of Clinical Psychological Science.

The findings matched previous studies which linked spending time on social media to unhappiness.

"But these same surveys ask teens how they spend their leisure time, and between 2010 and 2015, teens increasingly spent more time with screens and less time on other activities".

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