Smartphone Use Linked to Mental Health Issues in Young Children

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Overuse of smartphones and tablet devices have been linked to accelerating mental health issues and contributing to a negative well-being for some time, but new research shows that this damage can begin in children as young as two years old.

Smartphones use in young children had become increasingly common, with a plethora of apps and content now available for this age demographic. Children are becoming familiar with smartphones at a younger age, and this may lead to a diminished level of curiosity, lower self-control, and an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, shows that researchers found that while teens ages 14-17 are at a higher risk for such adverse effects, there is a strong correlation for younger children and toddlers, whose brains are just beginning to go through important developmental changes. Surveying over 40,000 children, the research found that children who had high levels of screen time were twice as likely to lose their temper. It also detailed that nearly 10% of kids aged 11-13 who spent more than an hour on screens had a significantly diminished curiosity to learn new things in school.

Study author Jean Twenge of San Diego State University said, “Half of mental health problems develop by adolescence.” With smartphones becoming an increasingly prevalent device in our day-to-day lives, this study shows that children who have high levels of screen time are developing more serious problems. Twenge recommends that parents become more conscious of how much time children spend staring at a screen, urging them to limit smartphone usage to two hours.

Twenge says “..there is an actual need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are amenable to intervention in this population, as most antecedents are difficult or impossible to influence.” Currently, the National Institute of Health claims that children are spending an average of five to seven hours on screens in their spare time. With this, we are presented with a unique opportunity in that were in a position to almost certainly alleviate potential mental health issues by limiting children’s screen time.

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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