In contrast to generally held views about the negative impact of using smartphones, researchers have found that teenagers spending time on their phones and online is not that bad for mental health. “Contrary to the common belief that smartphones and social media are damaging adolescents’ mental health, we don’t see much support for the idea that time spent on phones and online is associated with increased risk for mental health problems,” said Michaeline Jensen, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina.
Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 teenagers (10-15 years), for the study published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science) and collected reports of mental health symptoms from the adolescents three times a day and also reported on their daily technology usage each night. Their analysis suggest no linkage of digital technologies usage and worsening of mental health. On the contrary, they found that teenagers who reported sending more text messages reported feeling better (less depressed) than kids who were less frequent texters.
Advising against excessive use of technology, experts emphasised on its responsible use. According to Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director at Fortis Mental Health Programme in Noida India, life for a young person needs to be well balanced with indoor and outdoor activities, and the studying time should be also balanced with the time to have fun.
“TV, Internet, online games, social media needs to be used in limit and never at cost of peer interaction, family time, sports and studies. The key is to find the right balance. Using phones to connect with friends is good but students should also be well compensated with in-person interactions,” he says. “Social media can be used positively to express views, choices and bring positivity. At the same time, children should be empowered with skills to deal with social media effectively,” he added.
Adults need to be good role models and help shape the overall lifestyle balance for children.
“Content is as important as the user mindset and his environment to create a pathological condition called ‘internet addiction’,” as per Mrinmay Kumar Das, Senior Consultant, at Jaypee Hospital, India.