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Using a smartphone for 4 hours a day may damage your mental health

A recent report states that youngsters who have been using a smartphone for more than four hours a day have higher rates of stress, thoughts of suicide and substance use, compared to those with usage below four hours per day.

Saumya Nigam Edited By: Saumya Nigam @snigam04 New Delhi Updated on: December 07, 2023 16:54 IST
smartphone use, mental health
Image Source : FREEPIK Using a smartphone for 4 hours per day may be risky

Adolescents (youngsters between 10-19 years of age group) who are very much indulged in smartphones for more than four hours per day could be at higher risk of disadvantageous mental health and substance use risk, a study states.

A team from Hanyang University Medical Center which is based in Korea has analysed data on more than 50,000 adolescent participants to deepen their understanding of the relationship between adolescents' use of smartphones and their health (physical and mental). 

Even before the research took place, it was shown that smartphone use among the growing kids has upscaled over the recent years, and this usage is said to be associated with a higher risk of adverse health issues like sleep issues, psychiatric disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Let us know a little more about these disorders:

Sleep issues: A person is sleep deprived because of screen time. As one watches at the screen of a smartphone, the light signals the brain that it is still bright outside and the human has to keep up for the day.

Psychiatric disorders:  This disorder involves mental illness which includes anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia (a serious mental condition which involves emotional breakdown via thought, behaviour, and emotion, which can lead to faulty perception, and withdrawal from reality and personal relationships because of delusion). It also includes eating disorders and addictive behaviours as well.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD): It is a disorder of the muscles, tendons, nerves, cartilage, joints, and spinal discs. This activates when one keeps them in one position (not very comfortable for a very long time).

Hanyang University Medical Center’s Data 

The data included the approximate number of daily hours each participant (out of 50,000) has been spending on their smartphone and various health measures included.

As per the statistical analysis employed tendency score matched to help account for other factors which could be linked to health outcomes, like age, sex and socioeconomic status.

Youngsters who have been using a smartphone for more than four hours every day reportedly have higher rates of stress, thoughts of suicide, and substance use, compared to those with usage below four hours per day.

But, this is a must to mention that youngsters who use a smartphone for an hour or two hours per day experience fewer problems than those who do not use a smartphone at all. 

The findings were published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

What does the study reveal?

The authors have noted that this study does not confirm a causal relationship between smartphone use and adverse health concerns. Nonetheless, the findings could help inform the usage guidelines for adolescents -- especially if daily usage continues to rise.

Jin-Hwa Moon and Jong Ho Cha of Hanyang University said, "This research shows the impact of using smart devices for more than four hours a day on adolescent health."

They further added, “The adverse effects of smartphone overuse became prominent after 4 hours of daily usage time. These results can help establish smart device usage guidelines and education programmes for appropriate media use."

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Inputs from IANS

 

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