The U.S. National Institutes of Health estimates that children and teens spend an average of five to seven hours on smartphones and tablets per day. Scientists warn that parents should limit their toddler's playtime on smartphones and tablets. A groundbreaking study found children are at risk of developing a mental illness if they spend too much time on electronic devices.
San Diego State University and the University of Georgia conducted the mental health study. The Journal of Preventative Medicine Reports published the findings.
An Hour of Smartphone Use Can Lead to Mental Illness in Children
Researchers found that children can develop anxiety or depression by spending as little as an hour a day on tablets and smartphones. Professors Jean Twenge and Kevin Campbell contributed research for the study's findings. They explained that many mental health issues develop by the time children become teenagers.
Almost 40,000 American parents of youngsters ages two to seventeen completed nationwide questionnaire. The scholars asked about the children's medical, emotional, and psychological issues. The investigators also requested information about their minor's daily use of electronic devices.
Teen Screen Users Have an Elevated Risk of Developing Depression
Analysts found adolescents face the highest risk for mental illness due to their electronic device usage. Adolescents that spent seven hours of screen time were twice as likely to receive a mental illness diagnosis. Their risk was double that of peers who used these devices less. Sadly, children, ten years and younger, can also face psychological issues. Twenge says the association between mental health and screen usage was higher among teens than children.
The findings surprised Professor Twenge. She says that adolescents spend more time on their cell phones. Younger children watch more television and videos. Even moderate use of electronic devices results in lower psychological well being.
The study found that:
- Preschoolers under five years old are twice as likely to lose their tempers after using electronic devices.
- Forty-six percent cannot calm down and more prone to becoming excited.
- Four in ten 14-17-year-olds that spent seven hours on their screens didn't finish tasks.
- Nine percent of 11-13-year-olds that spent an hour online weren't curious about learning new things.
The study's co-authors said past studies came to conflicting conclusions. They couldn't make a definitive link between screen use and mental illness. Other scientists also questioned the limits on screen suggested by medical organizations. The evidence continues to show that activities like gaming and internet browsing can have a deleterious effect on health.
The World Health Organization recently included gaming disorders in its 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases. Experts say that screen-addicted children may fall victim to cyber-bullying, obesity, and reduced social skills.
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