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More digital screen time increases depression among teens

15 Novembre 2017

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after declining for almost two decades.

The researchers studied the questionnaire data from more than 500,000 teenagers. The data show that the suicide rate for teen girls (ages 13-18) rose by 65 percent between 2010 and 2015.

The research found that 48 percent of teens who spent five or more hours per day on electronic devices reported at least one suicide-related outcome, compared to only 28 percent of those who spent less than an hour a day on devices. These teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported one hour of daily use.

After noticing that teens spent more time on their screens in their leisure time, she advised people to "stop thinking of smartphones as harmless".

The authors surveyed suicide reports between 2009-15 and asked girls about their use of social media, electronic devices, print media, television and how much time they spent with friends.

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

The recent findings suggest parents should look into the amount of time their kids spend in front of screens.

Professor of psychology at San Diego State University Jean Twenge said, "These increases in mental health issues among teens are very alarming". Researchers say limiting screen-time to one or two hours a day would statistically fall into the safe zone for device usage. "Teens are telling us they are struggling, and we need to take that very seriously".

It was also suggested that engaging in social interaction, sports and exercise, doing homework, attending religious services, and others, was linked to having fewer depressive symptoms and suicide-related outcomes. "That was by far the largest change in their lives during this five-year period, and it's not a good formula for mental health", Twenge added.

More digital screen time increases depression among teens