Between 2010 and 2015, the mental health of US teens absolutely plummeted. Depression rates rose by 33 percent. Attempted suicide went up 23 percent, and suicides themselves rose 31 percent. But what in the world happened during these five years to leave us with such devastating figures? Research is pointing to the smartphone. Does too much screen time put some teens at risk for mental health issues like depression? Find out below.
Before concluding that the smart phone was to blame for the breakdown in teen mental health, researchers ruled out other potential risk factors, including economics, background, race, ethnicity and academic expectations and pressure. However, none of these seemed to correlate to increased depression, attempted suicide and suicide rates.
Compare this with the smartphone. At the end of 2012, more than 50 percent of teens had a smartphone. By 2015, that number rose to 73 percent. With smartphone ownership can the subsequent screen time across social media platforms.
And research has concluded that spending two hours or more online significantly increased depression and suicide risk factors. However, if individuals gave up a social media platform like Facebook, for one week, they felt less depressed.
It is strangely ironic that those teens who spend the most time on social media platforms can develop serious mental health issues. After all, social media is a way to connect with friends, followers and other people. Or is it?
Author and professor of psychology, Jean Twenge, notes that social time online is vastly different from face-to-face interaction and can increase feelings of social isolation.