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Excessive smartphone use linked to mental health risks in adolescents, study indicates



In a brand new study of greater than 50,000 Korean adolescents, those that used a smartphone for greater than 4 hours per day had higher rates of opposed mental health and substance use. Jin-Hwa Moon and Jong Ho Cha of Hanyang University Medical Center, Korea, and colleagues present these findings within the open-access journal PLOS ONE on December 6, 2023.

Study: Association between smartphone usage and health outcomes of adolescents: A propensity evaluation using the Korea youth risk behavior survey. Image Credit: FotoHelin / Shutterstock

Prior research has shown that smartphone use amongst adolescents has increased lately and that this usage could also be related to a better risk of opposed health, akin to psychiatric disorders, sleep issues, eye-related problems, and musculoskeletal disorders. Nevertheless, growing evidence suggests that at the very least some day by day web usage could also be related to higher physical and mental health for adolescents.

To deepen understanding of the connection between adolescents’ use of smartphones and health, Moon, Cha, and colleagues analyzed data on greater than 50,000 adolescent participants in the continued Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey collected in 2017 and in 2020. The info included the approximate variety of day by day hours each participant spent on a smartphone and various health measures. The statistical evaluation employed propensity rating matching to assist account for other aspects that may very well be linked to health outcomes, akin to age, sex, and socioeconomic status.

The researchers found that in 2020, the proportion of adolescents within the study who used a smartphone for greater than 2 hours per day was 85.7 percent, up from 64.3 percent in 2017. Adolescents who used a smartphone for greater than 4 hours per day had higher rates of stress, thoughts of suicide, and substance use than those with usage below 4 hours per day. Nevertheless, adolescents who used a smartphone for 1-2 hours per day encountered fewer problems than those that didn’t use a smartphone in any respect.

The authors note that this study doesn’t confirm a causal relationship between smartphone use and opposed health outcomes. Nonetheless, the findings could help inform usage guidelines for adolescents-; especially if day by day usage continues to rise.

The authors add: “This research shows the impact of using smart devices for greater than 4 hours a day on adolescent health.”

Funding: This work was supported by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (RS-2023-00267049), and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF2019R1F1A1058704) to J.H.M. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and evaluation, decision to publish, or manuscript preparation.

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