Study links excessive digital screen time among teens with depression, suicide

The research has found that teenagers, especially girls, who spend several hours per day before the digital screens are more likely to be depressed and have suicide-related outcomes.

By Zee Media Bureau | Updated: Nov 14, 2017, 17:13 PM IST
Study links excessive digital screen time among teens with depression, suicide
(Representational image)

New Delhi: Excessive smartphone use has previously been linked to sleep deprivation in teenagers and some studies have even highlighted their impact on teens' mental health.

Taking it a step further, a new study has said that spending more time on cellphones, tablets or playing computer games increases the risk of depressive disorders or induces suicidal tendencies in teenagers.

The research has found that teenagers, especially girls, who spend several hours per day before the digital screens are more likely to be depressed and have suicide-related outcomes.

The findings, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, noted that 48 percent of teenagers 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 increases in mental health issues among teens are very alarming," said Jean Twenge, Professor at the San Diego State University in California.

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

The researchers studied the questionnaire data from more than 500,000 teenagers. The results found that the suicide rate for girls, aged between 13 to 18 years, increased by 65 percent. Also, the number of girls reporting symptoms of severe depression increased by 58 percent.

"When the teens were asked about their leisure time activities, most of them increasingly spent more time with screens and less time on other activities. That was by far not a good formula for mental health," the researchers noted.

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.

(With IANS inputs)