Researchers from Hanyang University Medical Center in South Korea found that teenagers who use smartphones for more than four hours a day exhibit higher rates of adverse mental health and substance use.
Key findings: Researchers analyzed data from more than 50,000 Korean adolescents from the Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey in 2017 and 2020, focusing on their daily smartphone usage. They found that those who exceeded four hours experienced higher rates of stress, suicidal thoughts, obesity and substance use. Interestingly, those who used their phones for only one to two hours faced less issues than those who did not use theirs at all.
They also found that 85.7% of participants used smartphones for more than two hours daily in 2020, up from 64.3% in 2017.
Why this matters: Previous research have linked increased smartphone use to psychiatric disorders, sleep disturbances, eye problems and musculoskeletal issues, the researchers noted. While their study does not establish a causal link between smartphone use and adverse health outcomes, they believe their findings can help establish guidelines.
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“Smartphones have become essential platforms in the lives of young people,” study co-author Jong Ho Cha said in a press release. “Adolescents’ daily lives are connected to smartphones for various purposes, and this trend has been accelerated by school closures and social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As smartphone usage time increases, growing evidence suggests that the smartphone is related to many adverse health effects among adolescents.”
The study was published in the journal PLOS One on Wednesday.
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