The more time teenagers spend in front of a Smartphone or computer screen, the unhappier they feel, psychologists have found. They advise teenagers to communicate more with friends in person and play sports to improve their health. But forced to select smart phones from teenagers is not worth it – happier than they are unlikely to do.
The more time teenagers spend, burying themselves in the screen of a Smartphone or computer, the unhappy they are, researchers from the State University of San Diego have established. The study was published in the journal Emotion .
Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge American psychologist and her colleagues used the data obtained in the framework of the multi-year study “Monitoring the Future”, the collection of information for which has been conducted since 1975. Pupils of grades 8, 10 and 12 annually complete questionnaires on drug use, work experience, attitudes toward members of the opposite sex or race, trust in the government, environmental concerns, media use, and many others. Modern questionnaires also include questions about how long adolescents spend in front of a Smartphone, tablet or computer screen.
Having studied how the trends in this age group have changed since the 1990s, the researchers found that the time spent in front of the electronic device’s screen correlates with a decrease in the level of happiness among American teenagers.
Especially rapidly the feeling of happiness, self-esteem and satisfaction with life began to decline from 2012 – then the number of Smartphone owners among the entire population reached 50%, and among adolescents – 37%. Today, smart phones already have 73% of teens.
“To date, the biggest change in the life of adolescents in 2012-2016 has been an increase in the amount of time that they devote to media, and the concomitant reduction in hours of sleep and time spent in personal communication with someone. The emergence of smartphones – the most likely explanation for the sudden deterioration of the psychological state of adolescents, “- said Twenge.
After analyzing over a million records, the researchers found that, on average, adolescents who spend time flipping through the news feed in social networks, playing computer games, copying or using video chatting are more unhappy than those who communicate with other people face to face, learn news from newspapers and magazines and go in for sports.
The happiest were those teens that spent the last time with electronic devices.
“Although our research cannot show cause-effect relationships, other works demonstrate that more active use of social networks makes people more unhappy; however, misfortunes do not lead to more active use of social networks, “- emphasizes Twenge. In the same way, in her opinion, if you take a smartphone from a teenager, it’s unlikely that he will do it happier.
“The key to happiness is the limited use of digital devices,” notes Tweng. – Try to spend with them no more than two hours a day and try to increase the amount of time spent for personal communication with friends and sports – activities that can make a person happier. “
The adult population, obviously, also faced changes in the sense of happiness as smartphones spread. However, adolescents, whose adolescence was first associated with access to a full set of types of online activity – is a unique group of its kind, the researchers note.
Twenge not only pays attention to how smartphones affect teenagers. Her research in 2017 shows that, compared to other generations, modern teenagers are far less likely to get behind the wheel, get a job, go on dates, have sex and go somewhere without their parents. At the same time, the number of suicides among teenagers increased – they became even more than murders.
Tweng believes that a key role in this could play smartphones. Generation Z that is, people born after 2000, is the first generation that does not know what life is without the Internet at all.
Instead of playing with peers or getting a job, they are attached to their smartphones and computers and are isolated.
“Today’s teenagers go to a smaller number of parties and generally spend less time on personal communication, and even when they get together, they are accepted to document their meeting in social networks. If someone is not invited, he will be in the know, “- explains Twenge.
Has passed into the virtual plane and the intimate sphere of life.
Today, teens look a lot more porn than before, and are addicted to sexting – a correspondence of erotic content, often including the exchange of relevant photographs.
However, parents should not think that if they take away a smartphone from a child, then they will protect his psychological health. The main goal should be independence. If teenagers spend more time in the company of other people or work, they will have less time to flip through the news in social networks.