How much time do you spend on your phone per day? Can you calculate? You’re probably reading this from your phone right now, aren’t you?
Whether we’re young or old, a lot of us spend a good chunk of our day on our phone. And while we know that this is probably not a healthy behavior, recent research has shown that it’s a more serious issue than we thought, especially when it comes to children.
This new research showed that children as young as two years old are developing mental health issues from their use of technological devices – like being more likely to be depressed or anxious. It is also lowering their self-control, making them less likely to finish tasks, and decreasing their curiosity and emotional stability. And that’s all from just one hour of screen time a day, reported the Daily Mail.
While it’s still teenagers who are most susceptible to being damaged from using technological devices, it also affects children under 10 years old seeing as they still have developing brains.
The study was conducted by professors Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia, who said:
Half of mental health problems develop by adolescence. There is a need to identify factors linked to mental health issues that are [able to be changed] in this population, as most are difficult or impossible to influence. How children and adolescents spend their leisure time is [easier] to change.
So, according to them, it’s the parents’ and teachers’ responsibility to make sure that kids spend less and less time on their devices, and instead focus on studying, socializing, or playing a sport.
Their research is in line with a previous study by the American Academy of Pediatrics which claims that kids aged two to five should have a limit of one hour per day of screen time, while school-aged children and adolescents should have a limit of two hours. According to the US National Institute of Health, children and teenagers usually spend around five to seven hours on screens during their free time.
Professors Twenge and Campbell gathered the data from over 40,000 children in the US, aged two to 17 back in 2016. The participants were asked about their medical care, emotional development, behavioral issues and the amount of time they spend on their technological devices.
It was also revealed that the link between wellbeing and screen time was stronger in teenagers. Professor Twenge said:
At first, I was surprised the associations were larger for adolescents. However, teens spend more time on their phones and on social media, and we know from other research that these activities are more strongly linked to low wellbeing than watching television and videos, which is most of younger children’s screen time.
Apparently, teenagers who spend over seven hours a day on their phones are twice as likely to develop depression and anxiety, whereas children under five who had an average of four hours a day of screen time were more likely to lose their temper, and had a harder time calming down.